It emerged late yesterday that seven out of ten British Airways pilots had voted to go on strike over pay.
Despite the airline commenting that they had offered an 11.5% pay increase over three years, the pilots union BALPA argued that the airline is making “massive profits” and that the airline is no longer in a fight for survival.
Talks between BALPA and the airline have been going on since November 2018, yet an agreement between the two parties failed to be reached. The airline will go to the high court on 23rd July in an attempt to prevent any strike action, therefore any dates for a potential strike are yet to be announced. BALPA is required to give at least two weeks notice of any strike, so the absolute earliest that any walk out could take place is the 6th August.
This isn’t the first strike situation the airline has faced in recent years. Over the summer of 2017, the mixed fleet cabin crew walked out over pay. On that occasion the airline wet leased ten Qatar Airways A320 aircraft to operate on various routes throughout Europe.
If a strike were to happen on this occasion, this would be a far bigger headache for the airline. Whilst the previous cabin crew strike only affected one fleet based at Heathrow, a pilot walkout would affect the whole airline. Once again, the airline would likely lease in aircraft to cover routes. Where there is more than one flight per day to a destination, flights would likely be cancelled and consolidated on to one flight. A further option would be making use of the airlines’ OneWorld partners to rebook passengers. The airline has already been doing this on a fairly regular basis over the last year or so on its Doha route whilst its Boeing 787 aircraft have been out of operation with engine issues.
Even if the airline does manage to avoid any strike action from its own staff, it will still have the headache of Heathrow staff going on strike with over 4000 staff walking out in a pay dispute. The Heathrow staff will walk out on 26th/27th July, 5th/6th August and 23rd/24th August.
Looks to be an interesting few weeks ahead…