Australians face being stranded after British Airways cancels hundreds of flights


Australian holidaymakers risk being stranded after British Airways cancelled hundreds of flights.

Pilots for the major carrier began their 48 strike on Monday – grounding most fleets and causing chaos for jetsetters.

The company has warned travellers their flights might be affected and has warned holidaymakers their travels may not go as planned due to the industrial action. 

Qantas codeshares with British Airways meaning some of its flights may also be affected. 

Australian holidaymakers risk being stranded after British Airways cancelled hundreds of flights  (stock image)

Australian holidaymakers risk being stranded after British Airways cancelled hundreds of flights  (stock image)

Pilots for the major carrier began their 48 strike on Monday ¿ grounding most fleets and causing chaos for jetsetters

Pilots for the major carrier began their 48 strike on Monday – grounding most fleets and causing chaos for jetsetters

A spokesman for Qantas told Daily Mail Australia the company codeshares on a small number of British Airways flights from London Heathrow to Europe. 

He said passengers are able to move their dates of travel, free of charge to avoid the strike action.

Qantas’ two daily services from Melbourne and Sydney to London are expected to be unaffected, the spokesman said.

However, holidaymakers have been urged by the Insurance Council of Australia to contact their travel agent or British Airways directly to ensure they are fully aware of possible risks.

Spokeswoman Lisa Kable told the Sydney Morning Herald as British Airways is offering refunds or alternative travel arrangements, insurance should not be an issue.

More than 290,000 passengers’ travel plans will be disrupted this week when the British flag carrier is brought to a standstill during the first pilots’ strike in its history.

The Balpa union has threatened that BA’s fails to meet its demands during the long-running dispute could lead to a ‘damaging escalation’.

Balpa said its members – including captains paid an average of $298,982AUD (£167,000) – are prepared to take part in further strikes until its mandate for action ends in January. With another strike already scheduled for September 27, Balpa said yesterday: ‘Our ballot allows us to take action at any time.’

The current pilot's strike, which is the first in the airlines history, will affect around 290,000 passengers over a 48-hour period

The current pilot’s strike, which is the first in the airlines history, will affect around 290,000 passengers over a 48-hour period

Qantas' two daily services from Melbourne and Sydney to London are expected to be unaffected, the spokesman said (stock image pictured)

Qantas’ two daily services from Melbourne and Sydney to London are expected to be unaffected, the spokesman said (stock image pictured)

Higher-earning pilots have reportedly discussed sustaining months of industrial action by crowd-funding among themselves to help less senior members.

Strikes during the hectic Christmas holiday period would be hugely problematic for the airline. The union wants BA, which made a profit of $3.5billionAUD (£2billion) last year, to give pilots a share of profits. They have already rejected a pay rise of 11.5 per cent over three years, plus a 1 per cent bonus.

BA chief executive Alex Cruz has said this would push the total average package for captains, including allowances and bonuses, above $358,114AUD (£200,000). 

Balpa said the strike will cost BA $71million AUD (£40million) a day, claiming the dispute could be settled for $8,951,543AUD (£5million).

The union – which represents around 90 per cent of BA pilots – accused the airline of ‘belligerence’ yesterday, claiming ‘fat cat’ bosses shunned an opportunity to end the impasse at arbitration talks on Friday.

This week’s industrial action began at midnight and will affect almost all of the airline’s 1,600 scheduled flights, with knock-on effects expected for services on Wednesday. The worst disruption is expected at Heathrow, where 93 per cent of BA’s pilots are based, with the rest at Gatwick.

Balpa’s general secretary Brian Strutton said yesterday: ‘BA needs to wake up and realise its pilots are determined to be heard.

‘The company’s leaders, who are paid huge salaries, won’t listen. They are refusing to negotiate and are putting profits before the needs of passengers and staff.’

The airline has accused Balpa of issuing ‘inflated’ demands for extra bonuses and perks worth an additional $89million AUD (£50million).

BA, which has urged passengers not to turn up at airports today, has been criticised over its handling of the crisis.

The firm has insisted that most passengers have been provided with refunds or re-booked on alternative flights. But many have complained that the chaos has forced them to cancel holidays.

 

 



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