Unite, the union which represents British Airways “Mixed Fleet” cabin crew at London Heathrow, has called for further industrial action over fourteen consecutive days from Wednesday 19 July to Tuesday 1 August 2017.
This is a continuation of a dispute that has led to sixteen consecutive days from Saturday 1 July to Sunday 16 July 2017.
What can be confirmed now is:
- All flights from London City, London Gatwick and London Stansted will operate as normal.
- All flights from UK regional airports (apart from flights to London Heathrow) will operate as normal
- The majority of flights from London Heathrow will operate as normal
- BA operated services between London Heathrow and Doha are being cancelled
- Flights operated by codeshare partners, Oneworld alliance members and other airlines owned by BA’s parent company IAG (Aer Lingus, Iberia, Level and Vueling) are not affected
- If your flight is cancelled you will offered the opportunity to rebook to an alternative flight or a refund
Overall, the impact of the strike is likely to be low. However, given this follows 16 days of industrial action with just two days’ of normal operations, it will put pressure on the airline’s existing contingency plans. There may also be cancellations beyond the period of strike due to aircraft and crews being out of position.
The best advice is to check your booking using the Manage My Booking tool and ensure your e-mail and telephone contact details are up to date. In addition, it is a good idea to download the BA app to your smartphone to receive notifications about your flight.
You can also check live flight information on the websites of Heathrow and BA. The Heathrow website will show flight information for the next 48 hours. The BA site will show flight information (by route or number, but not airport) for the next ten days.
BA is not allowing any proactive rebooking to flights outside of the strike action and any changes or cancellations to existing bookings will be made in accordance with the fare rules at the time of booking.
In terms of the risk of further industrial action, the union is required to give 14 days’ notice to BA. So if there are no announcements two weeks before your flight you can assume it is not a risk of strike action. There is a strong possibility that this dispute will continue into August and possibly September.
Are there any indications of routes most at risk of cancellation?
During the latest strikes by Mixed Fleet cabin crew between Saturday 1 July and Sunday 16 July almost all short-haul flights from London Heathrow operated, with some operated by Qatar Airways.
A small number of long-haul flights were cancelled with London Heathrow – Doha (Flight numbers BA123 & BA122) bearing the brunt of cancellations.
One return flight between London Heathrow and Madrid (BA458 & BA459) which is operated by a long-haul Boeing 777 was also cancelled regularly.
Here is a full list of cancelled flights to date in the industrial action from 1 – 16 July which gives an indication of routes most at risk of disruption.
Common long-haul flights that were cancelled include Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Chicago, Houston, Jeddah, Luanda, Newark, Philadelphia, Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
There is no guarantee that routes not mentioned above are not at risk of cancellation, nor that the above routes are at risk of cancellation this time.
When will I know if my flight is safe or cancelled?
Some cancellations (notably Doha) were cancelled well in advance, in excess of seven days. Other flights were cancelled at shorter notice. But you should have at least 24 hours’ notice. There do not appear to have been any “on the day” cancellations during the latest industrial action.
Update 13 July: BA has already started cancelling services between London Heathrow and Doha from Wednesday 19 July.
How many cabin crew are taking part in industrial action?
It is understood that just over 10% of BA’s 15,000+ cabin crew have taken part in the industrial action this year.
How is BA maintaining its schedules during the industrial action?
Partly by leasing short-haul aircraft and crews from Qatar Airways, using management staff who are trained to work as cabin crew, and operating flights with reduced levels of crew.
Why is this dispute still ongoing?
This dispute started late last year and was originally concerned with pay. Following industrial action early this year, BA withdrew staff travel benefits from those who participated in industrial action. These employees also lost their entitlement to certain performance related bonuses.
Whilst the pay issue has been settled in principle, the union is taking continued action due to the loss of benefits and bonuses. BA’s view is that Unite should pursue action on this matter through the courts. Unite’s view is that the dispute cannot be settled without all matters being resolved.
Given that both sides are standing firm it is likely this dispute could continue into August and even September.
Whilst it is true that the strike is having a very limited impact in terms of cancellations, it must be causing a lot of headaches for BA’s crew scheduling teams.