Page last updated at 18:14 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

BA says strike will not hit Gatwick next time

Terminal 5 Heathrow (22 March 2010)
BA says most services will operate normally in the next four days

British Airways says it will be able to run a full schedule from two airports throughout the next planned strike by the Unite union.

The company says it has expanded its flights for the period of March 27-30 and both Gatwick and London City Airport will be unaffected.

It says increased numbers of cabin crew wish to work as normal.

The joint-leader of Unite, Tony Woodley, questioned the robustness of the planned weekend services.

Mr Woodley said: "BA management should spend more time on addressing their employees' concerns and less on fantasy schedules sending empty planes to unknown destinations."

The company's statement came as the airline continued to cancel flights in the wake of the strike that ended on Monday.

The airline's website shows it has cancelled nearly 200, or more than 19%, of flights that had been scheduled up to midnight on Tuesday.

No further talks to resolve the dispute are planned ahead of the next walkout, but unions have challenged BA chief Willie Walsh to return to negotiations.

More cancellations

At London Heathrow, its biggest UK hub, it has cancelled 14% of outgoing flights and more than a third (34.2%) of arrivals.

At Manchester, more a a fifth of all services have been cancelled.

At Newcastle, the figure is even higher, at 58.3%.

Aberdeen, with more than 28% of BA flights cancelled, and Glasgow, at 18.2%, are also among the worst-hit.

Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, Belfast and Inverness are unaffected.

In a statement issued to the London Stock Exchange about its operations over the weekend, BA said it estimated the three-day strike had cost the company £7m a day.

But the airline said the industrial action was unlikely to have much impact on its full-year earnings figure.

It suffered a loss before tax of £342m for the nine months to the end of December 2009 and says it needs to cut costs in order to survive.

'Correct positions'

According to the company's website, about a third of flights to and from the UK's main airports on Monday were cancelled.

Unite: 'There are no winners in this dispute'

BA's main hub at Heathrow suffered the biggest disruption, with 201 of the 443 flights before 1700 GMT marked as cancelled on BA's online schedules.

BA said that over the first two days of the strike, it operated 78% of its long-haul flights and 50% of short-haul.

It said it had operated another 70 "positioning" flights, in most cases carrying cargo, which the airline said had returned passengers home "with minimum disruption".

The airline said the stoppage, which ended at midnight on Monday, would continue to affect its operations this week after cabin crew returned to work.

"We are sorry for any cancellations, as we get our aircraft, pilots and cabin crew back into the correct positions around the world," the airline said in a statement.

"We are contacting customers and offering them a full refund, a rebook or a re-route so that they can get to their destinations."

But it said the "vast majority" of passengers would be unaffected.

Staff proposals

The strike action is the latest episode in a long-running dispute over changes to pay and conditions by BA that union Unite claims are being unfairly imposed on its members.

Workers are particularly angry that last November BA reduced the number of crew on long-haul flights and is introducing a two-year pay freeze from 2010.

The airline also proposed new contracts with lower pay for fresh recruits.

Unite argues that the actual number who turned up for work during the strike is much lower than BA claims.

Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, has questioned why BA was funding what he called "a floundering strike-breaking operation", pointing out that his members had offered the company their own cost-saving plan of more than £55m.


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