British Airways pilots call off second September strike


British Airways British Airways pilots call off second September strike

Union says it hopes airline will negotiate seriously but it is time for period of reflection

A BA flight takes off from Heathrow
A BA flight takes off from Heathrow. Pilots said they had demonstrated their anger and resolve. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty

British Airways pilots have called off a strike due next Friday, the union said.

The second strike, following action on 9 and 10 September, was scheduled for 27 September.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said the first strikes had “demonstrated the anger and resolve of pilots” and it “was now time for a period of reflection before the dispute escalates further and irreparable damage is done to the brand”.

The union said it hoped BA would negotiate seriously with a view to ending the long-running pay dispute.

BA has already cancelled passengers’ flights for next week. About 1,700 services were cancelled in the strike action this month.

Balpa said it could still announce further strike dates if BA refused to hold meaningful new negotiations. The union has a mandate for strikes until January 2020, after more than 90% of its BA pilot members voted for industrial action in a ballot this summer.

The union’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “Someone has to take the initiative to sort out this dispute and with no sign of that from BA, the pilots have decided to take the responsible course.

“In a genuine attempt at establishing a time out for common sense to prevail, we have lifted the threat of the strike on 27 September.

“BA passengers rightly expect BA and its pilots to resolve their issues without disruption and now is the time for cool heads and pragmatism to be brought to bear. I hope BA and its owner IAG show as much responsibility as the pilots.”

Pilots had asked for a profit share in pay talks. BA refused to budge on a three-year offer worth 11.9%. The company said the proposal would take senior pilots’ annual earnings to more than £200,000, including allowances, after three years. However, the union said most pilots earned around half that sum, and wanted more after accepting cuts to pay and conditions, including pensions, during lean years. BA recorded profits of more than £2bn in 2018.

A BA spokesperson said: “We have just received this news. We are considering the implications and we will give updates in due course.”

The airline has previously said it would be open to talks, but without pre-conditions. It is unclear how much of its normal schedule the airline will operate next week, having rebooked or cancelled thousands of passengers’ flights already.

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