BA to fly more than half of Heathrow schedule through strike
British Airways has pledged to fly more than half of its Heathrow schedule during the first of four cabin crew strikes planned for next week.
The carrier aims to operate more than 60% of long haul flights and more than 50% of short haul flights from Heathrow in the first strike period on May 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22.
BA will add to the schedule "where possible".
The airline said it will continue to fly to every short haul destination on its network.
All flights at Gatwick will operate as normal as will flights to and from London City Airport, including a New York service, during the entire strike period.
The contingency plans for the first of four walk-outs by Unite union members will see more than 60,000 passengers flown each day.
BA said it will operate most of its revised short haul schedule at Heathrow using its own aircraft and cabin crew.
It will supplement the schedule by leasing up to eight aircraft with pilots and cabin crews from five different airlines based in the UK and Europe.
BA has also made arrangements with more than 50 other carriers to rebook passengers during the strike period.
"The airline is still available to hold further talks with Unite but wants customers to have early warning of its flying schedule to allow sufficient time for alternative travel arrangements to be made," BA said.
Chief executive Willie Walsh said: "Unite"s leaders have deliberately targeted the busy half term holidays to cause as much disruption as possible for hard working families looking to spend some well earned time away.
"We are confident that many crew will ignore Unite"s pointless strike call and support the efforts of the airline to keep our customers flying.
"As the new government starts addressing the enormous economic challenges facing the country, it is sad that Unite"s priority is to seek to damage Britain"s links with the world.
"Our offer is very fair. It addresses all the concerns Unite has raised during 15 months of negotiations and Unite knows we have compromised many times in an effort to get a resolution. This strike action is entirely disproportionate.
"Our cabin crews are voting with their feet. Due to the numbers of cabin crew who are telling us they want to work normally since Unite"s latest strike call, the schedule will be slightly larger than we had originally anticipated.
"We will fly tens of thousands of customers around the world on business trips and family holidays every day that a strike takes place. Many thousands more can be rebooked onto alternative BA flights or onto rival airlines.
"I understand the deep frustration that customers who are booked from May 24 onwards must feel towards Unite.
"The union knew full well we could not publish a revised flying programme at Heathrow across a 23 day period in one go.
"We will do all we can to give customers more clarity about their specific flight once we start to understand how many cabin crew are willing to work as normal.
"We remain absolutely determined to resolve the dispute and our door remains open to Unite, day or night. It is not too late for Unite to call off this action and protect its members" job security."
by Phil Davies
Thursday, May 13, 2010