British Airways Even With Strike 60 Percent Passengers Will Fly <


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British Airways Even With Strike 60 Percent Passengers Will Fly

By Bill Goldston

March 17, 2010 - British Airways’ Flight Attendants association, Unite has 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.  

At this stage the vast majority of flights between March 23 and March 31 remain in the schedule British Airways will update customers due to fly during the second strike period (March 27,28, 29, 30) after the first strike period has ended.

The airline is still available to hold further talks but wants customers to have early warning of its flying schedule to allow sufficient time for alternative travel arrangements to be made.  In the first strike period, the airline will operate all longhaul flights to and from Gatwick and more than half of shorthaul flights at the airport. All flights to and from London City airport will be unaffected by the strike action. At Heathrow the airline will continue to operate more than 60 per cent of its longhaul flights to and from the airport during the first three days of action.  

The airline will operate some of its own shorthaul flights at Heathrow, and will supplement its schedule by leasing up to 22 aircraft with pilots and crews from eight different airlines based in the UK and Europe. This will enable the airline to operate around 30 per cent of its shorthaul schedule. British Airways has also agreed with 40 other carriers that customers can be rebooked free of charge during the actual strike period onto their flights if they had been due to travel on a BA flight which has been cancelled. Customers should check their bookings on British Airways website to see if their flight is still operating.  

Willie Walsh, British Airways' chief executive, said:  "We are deeply sorry that our customers are the innocent victims of this cynical attack on their travel plans by the leaders of Unite.  "We will continue to try to prevent this strike taking place, but we have reached a point when we must now offer some clarity to our customers who have waited with great patience since Friday when the strike dates were first announced.

"Due to the numbers of cabin crew who have called in to offer their services over the weekend, the schedule will be slightly larger than we had originally anticipated. Despite the desire of Unite's leadership to ground the airline, the flag will continue to fly. Around 60 per cent of our customers will be able to fly as planned and many thousands more can be rebooked onto alternative BA flights or onto rival airlines.

"I recognise the frustration of customers booked for travel from March 27 onwards, when the second stoppage is due to begin, and we will do all we can to give them more clarity about their specific flight number once we start to understand just how many cabin crew are willing to work as normal. We remain absolutely determined to search for a sensible settlement and our door remains open to Unite, day or night. It is not too late for the Unite to call off this action and we will do all we can to reinstate some of the cancelled flights."  

Customers in the UK wishing to rebook their flights can contact the airline on 0800 727 800 which is a free telephone line. British Airways has opened up an extra call centre manned by staff volunteers to help customers with rebooking and refunding queries. 

British Airways' flight program is complex, involving the combination of rosters for 13,000 cabin crew, more than 3,000 pilots and 230 aircraft operating around 650 services in and out of Heathrow and Gatwick every day. More than 8,000 flight and cabin crew have to be in the right place at the right time, either on aircraft, at airports or in crew hotels in more than 140 cities in more than 70 countries, every day.  

Customers are advised to check British Airways website on a regular basis to see if their flight is still operating before departing for the airport. If their flight has been cancelled they should not come to the airport but contact British Airways or their travel agent.    

Key points of British Airways' schedule for customers:  

  More than 60 per cent of longhaul services into and out of London Heathrow will operate as planned between March 20 and March 22. The airline may be able to add to this schedule in the days ahead.

The airline will be able to operate some of its own shorthaul flights at Heathrow. It will supplement this schedule by hiring in up to 20 aircraft with their own pilots and cabin crew.  This combination will enable around 30 per cent of shorthaul flights to operate as normal. The airline may be able to add to this schedule in the days ahead.

The airline will operate a full schedule of longhaul services at London Gatwick (to The Maldives, Tampa, Orlando, Egypt and Caribbean destinations) during the strike period. It will also operate more than half of its shorthaul network at Gatwick.

  Flights operated to and from London City will operate as normal, including services to and from New York.

Flights operated by subsidiary OpenSkies between Paris and New York will operate as normal. Flights operated by British Airways franchise partners (Comair in South Africa and Sun Air in Scandinavia) will operate as normal. Flights operated by other carriers (including oneworld Alliance partners) which have a BA codeshare flight number will operate as normal.

All dedicated cargo freighter services continue to operate as normal.

Response From Unite, union representing the Cabin Crew 

A Unite spokesperson said this morning: “Unite is ready to meet BA. But the company needs to put its offer of last week back on the table. If BA thinks that strikes are going to be avoided with a worse offer, the company is conning the travelling public.

"The company is still trying to bully and bludgeon its way through this. We need a serious approach to addressing cabin crew’s concerns... Our representatives on the ground are confident the strike will have overwhelming support among cabin crew, despite the company’s bullying and harassment, which risks poisoning the atmosphere on BA flights for years to come.”

Tony Woodley, Unite joint general secretary, said: “The assertion made by Willie Walsh (Monday) – and uncritically repeated by too much of the media – that Unite failed to attend talks at Acas last weekend to resolve the British Airways dispute is utterly false.

“Derek Simpson and I were in continual contact with Acas over the weekend to explain our position on the dispute and at no time was it ever suggested that we should attend a meeting, nor that Mr Walsh was expecting one. Acas has expressed its extreme annoyance at British Airways' misrepresentation of the position.

“The facts are that yesterday Acas asked Unite if we would suspend our strikes if BA put its withdrawn offer back on the table. Unite said yes. And Acas asked BA if it would reinstate its offer if Unite called off the strikes. The company said no.
It is therefore abundantly clear where responsibility for the continuation of this dispute lies.”

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