BA strip striking pilots of perks including 90% off flight costs

BA bosses strip striking pilots of ‘mega perks’ – including 90% off global flight costs – as they walkout for second day after forcing airline to ground ‘nearly 100%’ of flights during first 24 hours

  • British Airways pilots are being stripped of 90 per cent discount on any flight
  • The move by BA bosses will also hit family and friends who benefited from deal
  • The hardest hit will be crew who live overseas who use perks to commute to UK
  • The move came as nearly 300,000 passengers had travel plans ruined by strike

Striking British Airway pilots are being stripped of their staff travel perks for the next three years, it has emerged.

Cockpit crew have reportedly lost access to the 90 per cent discount on any flight which will also hit their family and friends who benefited from the deal.

They will also not be able to use ‘hotline bookings’ which confirmed flights at a discount, in a move that will cost them tens of thousands of pounds.

The hardest hit will be crew who live overseas and use the perks to commute to work from Heathrow or Gatwick.

British Airways has had to cancel nearly 100 per cent of its flights at London Heathrow yesterday, leaving terminals (like HEathrow Terminal 5, pictured) deserted

An empty lounge at Heathrow Terminal Five yesterday morning after the strike action got underway

British Airways planes parked at the Engineering Base at Heathrow Airport yesterday morning

The move by defiant BA bosses came as nearly 300,000 passengers had their travel plans plunged into chaos as yesterday pilots went on strike for the first time in the British flag-carrier’s 100 year history.

It announced the cancellation of ‘almost 100 per cent’ of its 1,700 scheduled flights after British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) staff downed tools at midnight yesterday in a long-running row over pay and perks.  They will not return to work until tomorrow.

The BA strike – the biggest in its history – could be only the first wave of industrial action with aggrieved pilots threatening to walk out again later this month as part of a lengthy campaign which could mean Christmas flights being cancelled.

The Sun reported that the revelation pilots were being stripped of the access to cut price global air fares came as the Balpa union arranged a ‘picket line’ at a £1,150-a-year golf club.

BA has told passengers that if they have a flight booked yesterday and today, it is likely they will not be able to travel as planned. The airline posted this tweet to customers yesterday

Stockley Park club near Heathrow hosted cockpit crew who were offered dedicated sessions with a financial advisor to discuss their tax returns and pensions.

One aviation source told The Sun: ‘It’s a different look for the pilots to the standard placard-waving picket line protestors demanding a living wage around a brazier fire.

‘The pilots are moaning about their £200,000 a year pay offer from an 18-hole championship course.

‘BA’s actions in axing their mega perks will have put the pilots off their golf swing. No-one thought bosses would go through with such an incendiary move.

No one can be seen at the British Airways check-in desks at Heathrow Terminal Five yesterday

‘BA has stuck two-fingers up at the Balpa union. Officials were expecting the airline to be seeking reconciliation, but instead this is BA refusing to back down.

‘Bosses have drawn a line in the sand and are telling its pilots to sit up and take notice at the whopping pay offer they are throwing away.’ 

The strike will continue into its second and last day today, after their union reported strong support for the industrial action.

How BA passengers could face more chaos over Christmas 

British Airways passengers could face more pilot strikes over Christmas as part of a long-term campaign of chaos over pay.

The Balpa union said that BA’s failure to meet its demands during the long-running dispute could lead to a ‘damaging escalation’.

Balpa said its members – including captains paid an average of £167,000 – are prepared to take part in further strikes until its mandate for action ends in January. 

With another strike already scheduled for September 27, Balpa said yesterday: ‘Our ballot allows us to take action at any time.’

Higher-earning pilots have reportedly discussed sustaining months of industrial action by crowd-funding among themselves to help less senior members.

Strikes during the hectic Christmas holiday period would be hugely problematic for the airline. 

The strike, which grounded most of the airline’s flights on Monday, is costing BA £40 million a day, according to Balpa, who claim the dispute could have been settled for as little as a £1 million.

Balpa reported support for the first day of the 48-hour strike, called in a bitter dispute over pay, was ‘virtually 100%’.

No talks are planned to try to break the deadlocked row, and a further 24-hour walkout is planned for September 27.

Balpa said its members were ‘standing firm’ in what is their first industrial action taken against BA, a strike which has caused the cancellation of more than 1,700 flights over the two days, affecting 195,000 passengers.

BA has offered a pay rise of 11.5% over three years, which it says would boost the pay of some captains to £200,000, but Balpa says its members want a bigger share of the company’s profits.

BA said in a statement: ‘We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused our customers. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.

‘We remain ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa. Unfortunately, with no detail 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.’

BA has spent weeks offering refunds to passengers or the option to rebook on another date of travel or an alternative airline.

Heathrow Airport was worst affected by the strike as it is the busiest hub for BA.

Both sides have said they want to resume talks, but there is little sign of the deadlock being broken.

Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: ‘British Airways needs to wake up and realise its pilots are determined to be heard.’

BA chief executive Alex Cruz apologised to passengers for the disruption and insisted the airline had worked tirelessly to contact everyone affected by the strike to offer alternative arrangements.

He said: ‘I’m really sorry for the position the cynical actions of the pilots’ union has put us in. It’s by all accounts an own goal for the union.

‘It’s going to punish customers, it’s going to punish our brand, it’s going to punish the rest of our colleagues – over 90% (of BA employees) have already accepted the 11.5% deal.’

The airline said that since Balpa issued the strike dates it has tripled the number of staff supporting customer contact teams.

Asked about revoking staff travel for striking pilots, BA told The Sun: ‘We make no apology for doing everything we can to protect our customers from further disruption.

‘Our pilot community have been made aware of the non-contractual benefits that they will forfeit as a consequence of their action.’ 

Why have BA pilots gone on strike? 

British Airways has cancelled most of its flights because of the first ever strike by its pilots.

Q: Who is on strike?

A: Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents the majority of BA pilots.

Q: What is the dispute about?

A: Pay. Balpa says its members want more of a share of BA’s profits.

Q: How much have they been offered?

A: BA has offered a pay rise of 11.5% over three years, which has been accepted by unions representing other BA workers.

Q: How many flights have been cancelled because of the strike?

A: BA said more than 1,700 flights were being cancelled on Monday and Tuesday.

Q: How many passengers have been affected?

A: Around 195,000 people would have flown with BA over the two days.

Q: Has BA been receiving many calls from passengers?

A: BA says it has expanded its customer relations teams since the strike dates were announced last month, and has received 111,000 tweets and almost 400,000 calls a day.

Q: What alternative arrangements has BA been making?

A: Tens of thousands of people have had refunds or rebooked flights with BA or with other airlines.

Q: Are any more strikes planned?

A: Balpa has announced a 24-hour stoppage on September 27 if the dispute remains unresolved.

Q: How much do BA pilots earn?

A: BA says its pay offer will take some captains to more than £200,000 a year after three years. Balpa says £100,000 is a more typical basic wage.

Q: Are any talks planned between the two sides?

A: Not at the moment. Meetings have been held in recent weeks but they failed to break the deadlock.

Q: Are industrial relations at BA in a bad state?

A: There have been disputes over the years, but relations had been good until the pilots’ row flared.

Q: How much are the strikes costing BA?

A: Balpa says each day costs BA £40 million, claiming that settling the dispute would cost £5 million.

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