AA Flight Attendants Stand In Solidarity With Striking BA Cabin Crew <


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AA Flight Attendants Stand In Solidarity With Striking BA Cabin Crew

Daniel Guevarra

March 21, 2010 - American Airlines Flight Attendants on Friday expressed their strong support for British Airways Flight Attendants, who begin their strike on Saturday, March 20. Support will consist of providing housing and other basic needs for British Airways cabin crewmembers stranded in the U.S.

"We share many issues and concerns with our colleagues at British Airways in our fight for a strong contract," said Laura Glading, President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents the nearly 18,000 Flight Attendants at American Airlines.

"Our common battle is for an improved standard of living, increased job security, and passenger safety. Unfortunately, our fight is not unique. The community of working men and women around the globe is threatened.”

Glading expressed concern for passenger safety as British Airways executives are threatening to use “volunteer cabin crew” to cross the picket lines. Earlier this week AA Flight Attendants asked for release from mediation after being mired in contract negotiations for almost two years.

If granted by the National Mediation Board (NMB) it would trigger a 30-day cooling-off period, the first step toward a possible strike or other job action. “We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers at British Airways and offer support for Flight Attendants needing assistance in the U.S.,” said Glading. “Together we can fight the culture of greed, broken promises and executives who year after year continue to take bonuses while frontline employees continue to make sacrifices.”

British Airways’ Flight Attendants association, Unite the union that represents the cabin crew had called for a strike on March 20, 21 and 22 and further on March 27, 28, 29 and 30. British Airways has published contingency plans that will allow 60 percent of its customers to flying through Unite's strike period.

The schedule aims to fly around 45,000 customers each day on March 20, 21 and 22. This represents around 60 percent of customers originally booked to fly on these days. In addition, many thousands more customers will be offered seats on alternative British Airways flights or on services operated by other airlines.

Unite has written a letter to Britain’s Transportation Secretary, Lord Adonis requesting an investigation of British Airways' plans to deploy a strike-breaking crew.  The union says the minister must take all steps to ensure that the reputation of UK aviation is not damaged by BA's determination to deploy under-trained novices as cabin crew during the strikes which loom this weekend.


With 80 percent of cabin crew standing strong on the first day of the BA stoppage, it appears British Airways contingencies plans are failing. BA has managed to fly only one third of its normal scheduled departures, their flagship terminal T5 is a ghost town as passengers stay away. The first long haul BA flight out (10 am) was to Abu Dhabi and crewed by 6 pilots and 2 international cabin crew. From 12.20pm until 2.30pm only 10 flights departed from Heathrow, normally there would be 50 during the same period; of the 10 which left, 8 flights were chartered and only 2 were BA flights.

By lunchtime on Saturday, 85 BA planes were parked at Heathrow - consuming the maximum parking space allowed for BA aircraft. 20 more planes had been moved to Cardiff to be parked, and a further 20 flown to Shannon, in western Ireland, to sit out the strike. By 2pm, only one flight to JFK airport had departed - normally there are five. At Gatwick, one third of flights have failed to take off. BA planes are taking off empty, save for cargo, as BA stretches efforts to make it seem it is functioning.

On average only 14 passengers are travelling on those flights which are taking off, far short of capacity. 2 strike-breaking chartered flights did not depart because of technical problems. That by mid-morning around 113 BA passengers had complained about the poor quality of food on-board the flights and that there are reports of no food on in-bound flights from Germany and Italy.

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