British Airways Pilot Strike Ballot Result Update

British Airways has failed to secure an injunction at the High Court to stop its pilots union BALPA from calling a strike. However, no strike dates have been called.

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

Following the announcement yesterday, Monday 22 July 2019, that British Airways pilots have voted in favour of industrial action in a pay dispute with the airline, BA has failed to secure an injunction at the High Court to prevent BALPA from calling a strike.

The background to this is that ten years ago, BA successfully secured an injunction at the High Court to prevent its cabin crew union from striking after it was found that, inter alia, erroneous voting instructions were issued by a union officer to its members.

Since then, airlines have regularly used the courts to try and stop strikes from going ahead.

The courts have subsequently had little sympathy. Whilst unions have to follow set rules in strike ballots, they are not there to act as tripwire to prevent strikes from going ahead.

BA is seeking leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

In the interim, BALPA has not set any dates for strike action and remains open to talks at the conciliation service ACAS, as per this statement:

The British Airline Pilots Association has said it is pleased it has successfully defended an application for a High Court injunction brought against it by British Airways in relation to its strike ballot of members.

Today the judge presiding over the case determined that the pilots union had issued its ballot correctly and therefore the ballot result could stand.   

BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:

“While we’re pleased with the judge’s decision, we’re frustrated that time has been wasted. BA could have spent this time coming back to the negotiating table instead of trying – and failing – to tie us up in legal knots.

“This delay will now continue with BA seeking to appeal against the Hight Court’s decision.

“As a result it’s now likely the talks scheduled with ACAS on Friday will have to be postponed.

“We ask that BA thinks hard about why 93% of our members feel so strongly about taking strike action.

“The company itself has admitted that even one day of strike action would cost most than what our pilots are asking for, so the ball really is in their court here, to look after their pilots and ensure the hardworking public get to continue their holidays as planned.

“Although legally clear to do so, we have still not set any strike dates to give BA one last chance to commit to negotiating on pilots pay and rewards with us at ACAS later this week.”

British Airways Pilots Vote For Industrial Action

British Airways pilots have voted overwhelmingly to hold industrial action in a pay dispute with the airline.

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

British Airways pilots represented by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) have voted to hold industrial action in a pay dispute with the airline.

The ballot closed today, Monday 22 July 2019. As is expected, there is a strong mandate for industrial action based on a high turnout. 93% of BA pilots have voted in favour of industrial action based on a turnout of 90%.

BALPA has not yet announced any dates for strike action.

In response to the ballot result, BALPA has issued the following statement:

BALPA’s industrial action ballot members in British Airways has now closed, with a 93% vote in favour of industrial action on a 90% turnout.
 
BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:
 
“This strong result demonstrates the resolve of BA pilots, and shows BA that it must table a sensible improved offer if a strike is to be averted. Sadly three days of ACAS talks have not moved the company’s position one iota. Settlement of this dispute is in BA’s hands.
 
“We do not wish to inconvenience our customers which is why we have tried to resolve this matter through negotiation starting last November – it is BA who has regrettably chosen to drag this out into the summer months.”
 
BALPA believes the cost to BA to settle dispute in full is significantly less than the cost would be of even a single day’s strike action.
 
BA’s attempt to injunct this industrial action in the High Court tomorrow [Tuesday 23rd July] means that any further negotiations are on hold while we prepare to defend our right to take this action
 
BA is making massive profits as a result of the hard work and dedication of staff, including because of sacrifices made during hard times.

Thankfully BA is no longer in a fight for survival so, like the airline’s senior managers and directors, pilots deserve a small fraction of that profit via, for instance, a profit share scheme.
 
We currently do not have dates for any potential strike action and will issue an update on this in due course.

We remain hopeful that this dispute can be resolved before strike action, but we remain committed to action if necessary.

Under UK employment law, BALPA is required to give two weeks’ notice of strike action, so the earliest a strike could take place is Tuesday 6 August 2019.

BA and BALPA did hold three days of talks at the conciliation service ACAS earlier this month, but these broke down without agreement.

On the basis that BALPA represent the vast majority of BA pilots at Gatwick and Heathrow, any strike would result in very significant disruption. There would also be residual disruption beyond the dates of any strike, particularly to inbound flights, due to aircraft and crews being out of position.

Codeshare flights operated by partner airlines and flights operated by franchise partners SUN-AIR of Scandinavia A/S and Comair in South Africa would not be affected.

At the time of publication (16:15 BST Monday 22 July 2019) there has been no response from BA. In terms of advice to passengers, if a strike is called, in the past BA has announced contingency plans around 7 days before any strike.

The uncertainty for passengers is of course not helpful but that is why a strike mandate is a powerful negotiating tool. Pay talks can go right up to the wire and a strike can be called off right up to the last minute.

In the interim, it’s a good idea to check that you have up to date e-mail and telephone contact details for each booking you hold in the Manage By Booking tool and have the BA app installed on your smartphone.

Update: 17:35 BST Monday 22 July

In response to today’s result BA has published the following statement on its website:

We’re very disappointed that the pilot union, BALPA, has chosen to disrupt our customers’ travel plans – including the summer holidays of thousands of families and friends – with potential strike action.

We have yet to receive strike dates from BALPA, so there are no changes to our schedule at this time.

We remain open to working with BALPA to reach agreement, as we have been since December.

Our proposed pay offer of 11.5 per cent over three years is fair, and the Unite and GMB trade unions, which represent nearly 90 per cent of British Airways staff, have already recommended this offer to their members.

We’re pursuing every avenue to find a solution to protect your travel plans and we urge BALPA to return to talks as soon as possible.

We’re very sorry for the disruption this potential strike action will cause.

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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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British Airways Heathrow – Cairo Aircraft Change

British Airways flights between London Heathrow and Cairo will be operated by a short-haul Airbus A321neo aircraft for 11 days in July 2019.

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BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff
BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has advised that its daily service from London Heathrow to Cairo will be subject to an aircraft change in July 2019.

These flights will be operated by a two class short-haul configured Airbus A321neo aircraft instead of a three class long-haul configured Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner:

Flight BA155 London Heathrow – Cairo – Tuesday 9 July – Friday 19 July

Flight BA154 Cairo – London Heathrow – Wednesday 10 July – Saturday 20 July

The reason for this is due to ongoing maintenance requirements to the Rolls-Royce engines of BA’s fleet.

As a consequence of this:

Club World passengers will be seated in Club Europe.

A full meal service will still be offered. Passengers will be proactively offered a partial refund of their fare. There is also the option of rebooking into an alternative BA flight, if available.

World Traveller Plus premium economy passengers will be downgraded to EuroTraveller short-haul economy.

Passengers will receive a EuroTraveller baggage allowance and Avios earning entitlement. A partial refund of the fare will be offered.

In EuroTraveller, a hot meal tray will be not be provided due to galley space limitations.

Only a cold sandwich and cereal bar will be offered.

No in-flight entertainment will be available on the aircraft.

This, like recent cancellations to Abu Dhabi, has been announced at quite short notice which suggests BA is still grappling with Boeing 787 maintenance and aircraft availability.

This route will be subject to further disruption as Air Belgium is due to operate this route from 18 August to 31 October 2019.

Passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

Affected passengers should contact BA or their travel agent.

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Possible British Airways Strike Ballot

An ongoing pay dispute between British Airways and its trade unions may be about to lead to a ballot for industrial action.

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For some months British Airways has been in negotiations with its trade unions, BALPA, GMB and Unite on a pay deal for staff.

The background to this is that BA has always negotiated separate pay deals with trade unions representing different work groups in the airline such as engineers, ground staff, cabin crew and pilots.

This year, BALPA, GMB and Unite submitted a joint pay claim to the airline arguing for a significantly improved pay offer and profit sharing arrangement.

This is due in part to the dramatic improvement in the airline’s financial health over the past ten years. Last year, BA reported an operating profit of £1,952m.

BA initially only offered a one year pay deal, citing uncertainty over Brexit. These have been resoundingly rejected by employees in consultative ballots.

Following further talks between the airline and trade unions which have not proved acceptable to the unions, it appears that the pilots union BALPA may be about to start a formal ballot for industrial action.

It is important to emphasise that at the time of publication, Wednesday 19 June 2019, BALPA has not made any official announcement.

However, BA is now clearly preparing for a possible strike ballot announcement as it has today issued guidance to travel agents to respond to customer queries.

Timing Of Possible Industrial Action

In terms of timings, it will take four weeks to conduct the ballot. Trade unions are then required to give two weeks’ notice of industrial action.

Therefore, there will be no industrial action in the next six weeks.

It is inevitable that there will be a strong mandate for industrial action based on a high turnout as this increases the union’s negotiating leverage over the airline. Whether this ultimately leads to industrial action is another matter. Very often disputes over pay deals can be agreed right up to the wire.

However, any pay offer by the airline has to first be approved by BA’s parent company International Airlines Group, which is likely to adopt a tough negotiating stance.

BA is unlikely to say much publicly, other than standard comments about wanting to work constructively with unions and that it remains open to negotiations and recommends talks at the conciliation service ACAS. It will only announce contingency plans and cancellations in the event of industrial action.

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British Airways London Gatwick – New York JFK Cancellations

British Airways has cancelled its daily service from London Gatwick to New York JFK from Tuesday 14 January to Monday 10 February 2020.

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Manhattan at Sunrise
Manhattan at Sunrise (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

British Airways has cancelled its daily service from London Gatwick to New York JFK from Tuesday 14 January to Monday 10 February 2020.

The affected flight numbers are BA2273 from London Gatwick to New York JFK and BA2272 from New York JFK to London Gatwick.

No specific reason has been given for the cancellations other than “commercial reasons” which suggests low seasonal demand.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Passengers can also be re-accommodated on alternative American Airlines and BA services from London Heathrow. However, any additional costs such as ground transportation and hotels will be at passengers’ expense.

Passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

Affected passengers should contact BA or their travel agent.

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Air Belgium to operate Heathrow – Cairo for British Airways

Air Belgium is to operate London Heathrow Cairo for British Airways from 18 August to 31 October 2019.

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Air Belgium Airbus A340 aircraft

British Airways continues to wet lease an Airbus A340 aircraft from Air Belgium at London Heathrow.

One return flight, BA185 & BA184 from Heathrow to Newark is currently operated by Air Belgium until Saturday 8 June 2019.

Another return flight, BA93 & BA92 from Heathrow to Toronto, will be operated by Air Belgium from Sunday 9 June to Saturday 17 August 2019.

Heathrow – Cairo Wet Lease

The wet lease has now been extended to Cairo.

BA155 from London Heathrow to Cairo will be operated by Air Belgium from Sunday 18 August 2019 to Thursday 31 October 2019.

BA154 from Cairo to London Heathrow will be operated by Air Belgium from Monday 19 August 2019 to Friday 1 November 2019.

The flight will be operated by an Air Belgium A340-300 aircraft.

The route is currently operated by a three class Boeing 777-200 and was due to switch to a Boeing 787 for the winter season, instead of a two class Airbus A321, as per last winter.

The overall service standard on Air Belgium should be similar to that of BA.

Rebooking Options

All passengers have the option of rebooking on to BA’s alternative return flights from Heathrow to Cairo as close to your original date of travel as possible.

Full refunds are not available, except for Club World and World Traveller Plus passengers, unless allowed by the original fare rules.

Premium Economy Passengers

There is no premium economy cabin on Air Belgium aircraft.

Unless passengers rebook on to an alternative BA service, they will be downgraded to economy and receive a partial refund of their fare.

Passengers will retain their original baggage allowance and Avios earning entitlement. Some passengers may also be upgraded to business class.

Passengers can check the status of their booking using the Manage My Booking tool on ba.com

Affected passengers should contact BA or their travel agent.

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British Airways Boeing 787 Cancellations

British Airways has cancelled flights on a number of Heathrow routes up until August 2019 due to Boeing 787 engine checks.

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BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff
BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways continues to selectively cancel flights to allow for additional checks and maintenance to the engines of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.

Previously Announced Cancellations

BA has applied blanket cancellations to the following Heathrow routes during May and June of this year:

BA123 from London Heathrow to Doha is cancelled from Thursday 9 May until Monday 27 May 2019.

BA122 from Doha to London Heathrow is cancelled from Friday 10 May until Tuesday 28 May 2019.

Passengers will be re-accommodated on Qatar Airways serves between London Heathrow and Doha.

BA139 from London Heathrow to Mumbai is cancelled from Friday 14 June to Sunday 30 June 2019.

BA138 from Mumbai to London Heathrow is cancelled from Saturday 15 June to Monday 1 July 2019.

Passengers will be re-accommodated on alternative BA services between London Heathrow and Mumbai.

BA73 from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi is cancelled on 8, 9, 10, 11 and 21, 22 June 2019.

BA72 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow is cancelled on 9, 10, 11, 12 and 22, 23 June 2019.

Passengers will be re-accommodated on alternative BA services between London Heathrow and Dubai, with any consequential costs at passenger’s expense.

Tactical Cancellations

BA has, today Friday 10 May 2019, also announced the following tactical cancellations up until late August 2019:

BA123 London Heathrow – Doha 24 & 25 June
BA122 Doha – London Heathrow 25 & 26 June 

BA73 London Heathrow – Abu Dhabi 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 July 2019
BA72 Abu Dhabi – London Heathrow 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11 July 2019

BA69 London Heathrow – Philadelphia 5 July 
BA68 Philadelphia – London Heathrow 5 July 

BA215 London Heathrow – Boston 20, 21, 27 & 28 July
BA214 Boston – London Heathrow 20, 21, 27 & 28 July

BA193 London Heathrow – Dallas Fort Worth 3, 4, 5 & 6 August 
BA192 Dallas Fort Worth – London Heathrow 3, 4, 5 & 6 August 

BA167 London Heathrow – Tel Aviv 17, 18, 19 & 20 August 
BA166 Tel Aviv – London Heathrow 18, 19, 20 & 21 August 

BA197 London Heathrow – Houston 28 & 29 August
BA196 Houston – London Heathrow 28 & 29 August

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled will be re-accomodated on alternative BA flights or those of partner airlines. Alternatively, passengers are entitled to a full refund.

Affected passengers should check the status of their booking at ba.com and contact either BA or their travel agent.

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BA Heathrow – Abu Dhabi Cancellations

BA has cancelled its service from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi over June & July 2019.

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BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff
BA Boeing 787 at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has applied blanket cancellations to its five times weekly service from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi during June & July 2019.

BA73 from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi is cancelled on 8, 9, 10, 11 and 21, 22 June 2019.

BA72 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow is cancelled on 9, 10, 11, 12 and 22, 23 June 2019.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Alternatively, passengers can fly on an alternative BA operated flight between London Heathrow and Abu Dhabi within three days of the original date of travel. However, any additional expenses such as ground transportation will be at the passenger’s expense.

Affected passengers should check the status of their booking at ba.com and contact either BA or their travel agent.

The reason for the cancellations is ongoing maintenance requirements to Rolls-Royce engines of its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Whilst the issue is expected to abate by the end of the year, it won’t be until 2020 until it is fully resolved.

BA has also been required to put in place blanket cancellations on flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai and New Delhi and London Heathrow – Doha. BA has also wet lease an aircraft from Air Belgium to cover select flights from London Heathrow to Newark and Toronto.

Update Thursday 27 June 2019

British Airways has announced additional cancellations between Heathrow and Abu Dhabi in early July:

BA73 from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi is cancelled on 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 & 8 July 2019.

BA72 from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow is cancelled on 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 & 9 July 2019.

In addition to the options above, affected passengers can also fly on BA operated flights between London Heathrow and Dubai. However, any consequential costs such as ground such as ground transportation will be at passengers’ expense.

Update 1 July 2019

For passengers whose flights have been cancelled between 2 and 9 July, BA is also offering re-accommodation via Bahrain, connecting to/from Etihad Airways between Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. BA may also re-accommodate some passengers on direct Etihad Airways services between London Heathrow and Abu Dhabi.

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British Airways Doha Cancellations May 2019

British Airways has cancelled its daily flight from London Heathrow to Doha for much of May 2019.

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British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways continues to put in place ad hoc blanket cancellations between London Heathrow and Doha.

BA123 from London Heathrow to Doha is cancelled from Thursday 9 May until Monday 27 May 2019.

BA122 from Doha to London Heathrow is cancelled from Friday 10 May until Tuesday 28 2019.

No specific reason has been given for the cancellations other than “operational reasons”. The most likely reason is to release capacity in the Boeing 787 fleet. There have been ad hoc cancellations on a number of other routes. An aircraft has also been wet leased from Air Belgium to cover other routes.

If history is anything to go by, the cancellations could well be repeated.

Rebooking on Qatar Airways

BA has a rebooking agreement with its codeshare partner Qatar Airways.

If your flight is cancelled you have the option of rebooking on to Qatar Airways from London Heathrow to Doha. You can rebook up to three days before or after your original date of travel.

World Traveller Plus Premium Economy

Qatar Airways does not operate a premium economy cabin.

Therefore, you will be downgraded to economy. You will be entitled to claim compensation for the downgrade.

Qatar Airways London Heathrow Aircraft

Qatar Airways use a variety of different aircraft on the London Heathrow route.

This includes Boeing 777-300, Airbus A350 and Airbus A380 aircraft.

If you have a particular preference for one aircraft, it’s worth checking your specific flights on your day of travel.

It should also be noted the following Qatar Airways operated flights depart from London Heathrow Terminal 4.

Alternative Routing Options

If you are connecting from a flight in the UK to London Heathrow for onward travel to Doha (for example, Edinburgh) you have the option of rebooking on to a direct Qatar Airways flight to Doha, if available.

Refunds

If any of the rebooking options are not satisfactory, you will have the option of cancelling your booking and receiving a full refund.

Affected passengers should check the status of their booking at ba.com and contact either BA or their travel agent.