The British Airways pilots’ strike will continue into its second and last day on Tuesday, after their union reported strong support for the industrial action.
The strike, which grounded most of the airline’s flights on Monday, is costing BA £40 million a day, according to the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), who claim the dispute could have been settled for as little as £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.
Today’s action should be a wake up call for British Airways https://t.co/FO2Ft0KmqB
— BALPA (@BALPApilots) September 9, 2019
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.