Thousands disrupted as BA pilots stage biggest walkout in airline's history

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
British Airways has cancelled nearly 1,600 flights for Monday and Tuesday over pilot strike. Photo: Getty

Thousands of passengers will be disrupted this week as around 4,000 pilots from British Airways (IAG.L) start two-day strike action on Monday (9 September) — the biggest walkout in the airline’s history.

While BA and the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said that they are willing to restart negotiations over the ongoing dispute over pay and conditions, BA has had to cancel a majority of the 1,600 flights over the next two days and have advised passengers to not turn up to the airport.

It added that the rest of the week will see a large number of knock-on disruptions and passengers should keep checking the BA website for updates.

The Civil Aviation Authority says that passengers have the legal right to get BA to pay for a replacement flight to get to your destination — even if that means going on another airline.

BA says that passengers can request a full refund, rebook the flight for another time in the next 355 days, or use the value of the fare to fly to a different destination.

What’s the reason for the strikes?

A BA ad featuring Georgia May Jagger flanked by pilots. Photo: Getty

Pilots want better pay and have rejected a proposed increase worth 11.5% over three years — meaning the average captain would take home £200,000 ($245,744), including allowances, annually.

Currently, long-haul captains are paid on average £167,000 while a co-pilot is paid £70,000. Some junior pilots are paid a base salary of about £26,000. However, to put this into perspective, pilot training usually costs about £100,000.

“It is completely unacceptable that BALPA is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action,” said BA in a statement when the strikes were first announced.

“BALPA has given us notice that they will strike on September 9th, 10th and 27th. We are extremely sorry that after many months of negotiations, based on a very fair offer, BALPA has decided on this reckless course of action.

“We continue to pursue every avenue to find a solution to avoid industrial action and protect our customers' travel plans.”

BALPA’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, said in a statement last week: “Our members’ resolve is very strong and they remain very angry with BA, but they also want to leave no stone unturned in trying to find a resolution to their dispute. Avoiding strike action and agreeing a deal with their pilots surely must be the desired outcome for British Airways.

“We urge BA to join us to discuss the new proposal – which shows pilots are willing to be flexible but still stand united in getting a better deal.”