“After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this,” British Airways said in a statement.
The airline has been forced to cancel almost all its flights from UK airports on day one of a pilots strike.
“Unfortunately, with no detail from BALPA [British Airline Pilots Association] 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,” the airline added.
The UK flag carrier and its 4,300 pilots have been locked in a 9-month pay dispute that could disrupt the travel plans of nearly 300,000 people.
Pilots will continue striking tomorrow and have threatened to strike another day on September 27 and then possibly again closer to the winter holidays should the dispute still not be resolved.
BALPA rejected a pay increase of 11.5% over 3 years that British Airways proposed in July. BA said the offer would see flight captains receive “world-class” pay and benefits of around £200,000 (€220,000) a year. It also points out that 2 other unions representing 90% of the airlines’ workers have accepted the 11.5% raise.
BALPA countered that co-pilots’ salaries average around £70,000 and that of junior ones drops down to just £26,000. This leaves some in heavy debt since they must first undergo training that the BBC estimates costs around £100,000. The union also points to a nearly 10% jump in pre-tax profits reported by BA’s parent company IAG last year.
The airline said it remains willing to return to talks with the British Airline Pilots Association.
Anyone flying with the airline to and from Ireland are encouraged to check their flight status before travelling.