New Strike Starts at British Airways

New Strike Starts at British Airways
# 31 May 2010 07:25 (UTC +04:00)
Baku - APA-Economics. British Airways PLC’s cabin-crew staff Sunday kicked off another five-day strike after talks between the airline and Unite union negotiators broke down Friday. British Airways said it hopes to operate more flights in the coming days than during the previous disruption last week, Wall Street Journal reported.

The carrier is increasing its long-haul schedule from London’s Heathrow Airport to more than 70% of flights and its short-haul schedule to more than 55% of flights during the strike period. BA flew about 60% of its long-haul and 50% of its short-haul flights from Heathrow during the previous round of strike action that ended Friday.

British Airways is using so-called "wet leases"—the leasing of aircraft complete with cabin crew and pilots from other airlines to cover certain routes—and is booking customers onto other airlines to help ensure travelers get to their destinations. British carrier and Unite have been in dispute for nearly 16 months over pay and changes to work practices. The airline said it remains available for new discussions with Unite.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service said it is contacting both parties with the goal of arranging further talks. Acas is an independent mediator. If a deal cannot be reached, a further five days of strikes will start on June 5. All BA flights will operate at London’s smaller Gatwick and London City airports, the airline said. It expects to fly 65,000 customers—about 75% of those with a ticket—between Sunday and Thursday.

Heathrow Airport’s website showed about 10 departing British Airways flights were disrupted Sunday morning, while a handful of BA flights arriving from places including South Africa, Washington, D.C., and Egypt had to be canceled. Unite, which represents about 90% of BA’s 12,000 cabin-crew staff, has blamed BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh for the deadlock.

The union’s co-leader Derek Simpson reiterated Sunday that the dispute could be resolved if British Airways restored the low-cost travel—a cherished perk—it had taken away from striking workers. British Airways said it made a "very fair" offer to workers and the disputed changes, including fewer staff on long-haul flights, are necessary for the airline to cope with reduced demand for air travel in the wake of the financial crisis.
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