British Airways Pilot Strike Ballot Update

Talks between BA and BALPA to avert possible industrial action have broken down without agreement.

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London Heathrow Terminal 5
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

The British Airline Pilots Association, BALPA, which represents the vast majority of British Airways pilots, is currently balloting its members for industrial action at BA.

This dispute follows a breakdown in negotiations on an annual pay deal. The ballot closes on Monday 22 July 2019. For the past two days BALPA has been holding talks with BA at the conciliation service ACAS.

BALPA has issued a statement this evening, Tuesday 9 July 2019, to advise that talks have broken down without agreement:

It is bitterly disappointing that despite two full days at ACAS we are still no further forward. BALPA tabled options for resolution but BA was not prepared to negotiate so there was no progress at all and no point continuing. Until BA changes its attitude there is little prospect of talks resuming.

It is inevitable that the strike ballot will produce a strong mandate for industrial action. BALPA is required by law to give two weeks’ notice of industrial action, meaning that a strike could theoretically take place in the week beginning Monday 5 August 2019.

Any strike would cause very significant disruption at Heathrow and Gatwick. BA’s options to mitigate against the impact such as wet leasing aircraft and rebooking passengers on other IAG airlines and joint-venture partners are relatively limited in the summer.

In previous incidents of industrial action BA has adopted a conservative approach to scheduling and would only publish a strike schedule it would be confident of operating. BA is unlikely to say very much publicly until it has to announce contingency plans, other than it remains open for talks with BALPA.

The current impasse does not preclude further talks between BA and BALPA. Ultimately, both sides know they need to reach an agreement on this issue and pay negotiations can go right up to the wire. Unfortunately, this does mean a month of uncertainty for passengers.

Update Monday 22 July 2019:

BA pilots have, as expected, voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.

However, no strike dates have been announced. BA is also seeking an injunction to prevent any industrial action. (London Air Travel)

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