British Airways cancels nearly 100% of flights as pilots go on strike

british airways to scrap pension scheme

British Airways has cancelled nearly all of its flights today as pilot union BALPA began a two-day walkover over pay.

“Unfortunately, with no detail from BALPA on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work, or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100% our flights,” British Airways said in a statement this morning.

The strike comes as BALPA has rejected a pay rise of 11.9% over three years, arguing for a profit share for its pilots, who previously accepted cuts to pay and pensions to support British Airways’ return to profitability.

“The flag carrier is making around £2bn profit and the cost of BALPA’s latest proposal is less than £5m more than British Airways previously offered. Meanwhile, one day of strike action costs around £40m,” BALPA said.

“BA has resorted to breaking agreements and threatening pilots who will strike, which is bound to make matters worse. BA’s behaviour is illogical and irresponsible and will further deepen the fallout with their pilots.”

Speaking on Sky News, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz said the union has scored an “own goal,” which punishes British Airways’ customers, brand and 90% of the airline’s staff who accepted an 11.5% pay increase.

Cruz was paid £1.3m in 2018, when British Airways parent firm, IAG, made annual profits of €2.9bn (£2.6bn), about 80% of which came from British Airways itself.

British Airways had spent weeks contacting passengers to offer refunds or to rebook travel to another date or airline since the strike dates were announced on 23 August. The airline initially wrongly advised some customers that their flights would be cancelled, leading to widespread confusion and further criticism. 

British Airways is currently working with partners to bring in larger aircraft to mitigate the impact of the strike. Operational problems are likely to continue after the strike as pilots and aircraft are displaced for subsequent journeys.

Meanwhile, BALPA is planning further strike action for 27 September. British Airways is expected to start confirming cancellations in the next couple of days.