British Airways pilot strike is entering its second day, forcing the airline to ground all of its outbound flights from Heathrow and Gatwick.
After months of failed negotiations between the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) and British Airways, the airline was forced to cancel virtually all flights for Monday and Tuesday, after its pilots went on strike for the first time in the airline's history.
BALPA voted to take strike action after a long-held dispute over pay with the airline. According to the union, pilots who took pay cuts in the years following the financial crisis to help shore up the company, say British Airways’ executives have failed time and again to listen to their staff, and seem determined to force pilots to take the strike action.
“BALPA has consistently offered up chances for the company to negotiate a way forward. British Airways must now put the needs of its staff and passengers first and accept that its pilots will not be bullied,” said BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton.
“British Airways needs to wake up and realize its pilots are determined to be heard. This strike will have cost the company considerably more than the investment needed to settle this dispute,” he said.
The strike is expected to cost the airline as much at $50 million per day. “It is time to get back to the negotiating table and put together a serious offer that will end this dispute.”
Nearly 200,000 passengers, who were due to travel on Sept. 9 and 10, will have to alter their travel arrangements, according to British Airways. But it may not end there. BALPA is planning another strike for Sept. 27, if no deal has been reached by then.
“We understand the frustration and disruption BALPA’s strike action has caused you,” said British Airways in a statement on its website. “After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.
“Unfortunately, with no details from BALPA on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100% of our flights.”
British Airways said it would offer the option to rebook on other airlines, or have their flights refunded to "as many customers as possible," including those with connecting flights with other airlines.
British Airways passengers should keep checking the airline’s website for updates.