Published on Friday, June 30, 2017

BA's strike contingency plans in doubt 24 hours ahead of walk-out

Update: The Department for Transport gave BA permission to wet-lease nine Qatar aircraft this afternoon. 

British Airways is still waiting for permission from the Department for Transport to wet-lease Qatar Airways' planes to fly passengers during a two-week strike by cabin crew, which is due to start tomorrow.

Willie Walsh, head of BA's parent IAG, insisted that the airline's plan to use nine Qatar Airbus A320 and A321s and their crew would go ahead.

"I'll be pleased to say that those airplanes will fly and all of the British Airways passengers who are booked to fly with us over the next couple of weeks will be flying," Walsh told reporters in Brussels yesterday when asked if the application to use the aircraft had been successful.

However, the Civil Aviation Authority said today that it is still considering BA's proposal to wet-lease the aircraft, which have been idle since June 5 when four Arab nations announced a boycott of Qatar.

A CAA spokesman said: "We are currently processing an application from British Airways to wet lease nine Qatar-registered aircraft. Under European regulations specific approval is required for an EU airline, such as British Airways, to wet lease aircraft from an airline based outside of Europe.

"The UK Department for Transport will approve or reject the application taking into account advice from the Civil Aviation Authority.

"We can confirm we have so far received a number of comments on the application, which will be taken into consideration."

BA's 1,400 mixed fleet crew, who work on both short-haul and long-haul flights, will walk out tomorrow until July 16. BA insists all passengers will reach their destinations, but it has cancelled some flights and re-booked passengers onto alternative departures.

It has not, as yet, published a list of cancelled flights for the next few days.

A wet-leasing deal would mean that BA pays Qatar to use its aircraft and crew for the two-week period. Both airlines are members of the OneWorld alliance and codeshare on some flights and Qatar Airways owns 20% of IAG.

In a message posted on its website 10 days ago, BA said: "We recognise the uncertainty that Mixed Fleet Unite's threat is causing and would like to reassure customers that the vast majority of our services will be unaffected.

"We can already confirm the following details:

"All flights to and from London Gatwick, London City and Stansted will operate as normal as will our recently launched weekend only Mediterranean services to and from Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester.

"The vast majority of flights to and from London Heathrow will operate as normal.

"If you currently have a booking, please ensure that your email and phone details are up to date by using Manage My Booking on our website so that we can continue providing you with updates on your flight."

The message has not been updated since June 19.

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