Published on Monday, January 24, 2011
AITO blasts BA crew strike decision
AITO has hit out at British Airways crew for voting to strike again, labelling the action “comical if it weren’t so serious”.
A statement from the Association of Independent Tour Operators says that following a “brutal” year which saw the ash cloud debacle and heavy snow disruption, a strike is the “last thing” that the airline needs.
It says: “The threat of another BA strike once again hangs over the travel industry, and on the very day when the British Airways name disappears from the London Stock Exchange, cabin crew seem to be doing their best to cause chaos to innocent travellers once again.”
It was revealed on Friday that British Airways cabin crew had voted by 5,751 to 1,579 in favour of strike action. No strike dates have been set yet. Crew union Unite said the turn out to vote on whether to strike was bigger than the last time.
Union leader Len McCluskey said: “For the fourth time in 13 months, BA cabin crew have voted overwhelmingly in support of their union and expressed their dissatisfaction with management behaviour.”
The dispute has been dragging on for two years and has already led to 22 strike days, costing BA £150m.
AITO aviation committee chairman John Tangney said: “If it wasn’t so serious it would be almost comical, cabin crew were warned that if they went on strike that their staff concessions would be removed yet they continued regardless.
“They can have absolutely no grounds for complaint; it is clear that their initial strike action was a calamitous decision and achieved nothing.
“I would recommend that travellers who are concerned about this strike to contact their tour operator who will be ready for their calls and will help re-book flights with other carriers.”
BA says it has contingency plans in place that will mean that during the next walk out it will be able to operate all of its flights from Gatwick and London City and all long-haul flights from Heathrow. Only “a minority” of short-haul flights from Heathrow will be affected.
AITO ends its statement by advising holiday makers to book with specialist tour operators in order to receive “full back up”.
Its adds: “Many of AITO’s 140 holiday specialists are ready to work around the clock to rebook clients on alternative airlines, reorganise accommodation and car hire, source new dates for holidays, and generally reassure people that they are in safe hands.
"Tour operators assume responsibility for holidays when something goes awry and, when a problem of this magnitude rears its head, who doesn’t want to have somebody to turn to for advice and practical help instead of opting for a long wait for a BA phone to be answered?”
by Dinah Hatch and Linsey McNeill