The travelling public is firmly behind British Airways in its dispute with striking cabin crew, new research from Cheapflights UK reveals.
A total of 1,087 passengers were surveyed by the company between Tuesday 16 February and Monday 22 February, with the online poll closing two hours before the strike was announced. Participants were asked whether they would support BA cabin crew if industrial action was called, choosing from three responses: Yes, No or Maybe.
The results point to overwhelming support for BA in the dispute over pay and working conditions. Exactly 75 per cent of respondents (818 people) said they had no sympathy whatsoever for cabin crew, describing them as “overpaid and underworked”.
A mere 20 per cent (213 people) voiced support for the flag carrier’s flight attendants, whom they endorsed as being “the best in the industry”. The remaining 5 per cent (56 people) seemed cynically indecisive, saying they would consider backing the strike but only if their flight was not affected by any disruption it brought about.
“This survey definitively adds the flying public to the chorus of voices already pleading with cabin crew to see sense and call off the strike,” commented Joseph Sikorsky, Global Brand Director of Cheapflights Media and a former BA head office employee.
“BA cabin crew are far more privileged than their counterparts at airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, bmi and easyJet. The changes that have been made to their working conditions reflect fundamental restructuring which is vital if the flag carrier is to avoid the fate of so many other airlines that ceased operations during the recession.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) last month declared that 2009 was the single worst year for the airline industry since World War II.
Falling passenger numbers and strained yields drove the majority of airlines into the red during the downturn, with legacy carriers such as British Airways being particularly hard hit due to their reliance on the collapsing premium market for Business and First Class cabins. BA posted losses of £401 million in 2008/09 and is widely expected to follow that up with even greater losses – perhaps running as high as £600 million – this financial year.
“The numbers speak for themselves, and our survey shows that passengers have no illusions about the gravity of BA’s predicament,” Sikorsky said. “Cabin crew will only add to their woes if they press on with this damaging and unjustifiable strike.”