THOUSANDS of Nigerian passengers face being stranded over the next few days as British Airways announced it has been forced to cancel almost all its flights from UK airports on the first day of a pilots strike.
British Airways has 4,300 pilots who have been locked in a nine-month pay dispute that could disrupt the travel plans of nearly 300,000 people. Today, the pilots embarked on a strike and this is set to continue tomorrow, with the industrial action planned for one more day on September 27 and then possibly again closer to the winter holidays should the dispute rage on.
“After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this. Unfortunately, with no detail from the British Airline Pilots Association (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,” a BA spokesman said.
Balpa has rejected a pay increase of 11.5% over three years that the airline proposed in July. BA sais the offer would see flight captains receive world-class pay and benefits of around £200,000 a year.
BA also points out that two other unions representing 90% of the airlines’ workers have accepted the 11.5% pay raise. Balpa, however, counters that co-pilots’ salaries average around £70,000 and that of junior ones drops down to just £26,000.
According to the union, this has left some in heavy debt since they must first undergo training that costs around £100,000. Balpa also points to a nearly 10% jump in pre-tax profits reported by BA’s parent company IAG last year.