British Airways has today published plans allowing the airline to operate 60 per cent of its scheduled departures during Unite’s planned strike next week.
The trade union confirmed on Friday it would stage two strikes later this month. Three days of action are planned from March 23rd, followed by a further four day walkout from March 27th.
However, the British flag-carrier plans to fly around 45,000 passengers each day - despite the planned disruption.
In addition, many thousands more customers will be offered seats on alternative British Airways flights or on services operated by other airlines, according to a statement released this afternoon.
Willie Walsh, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “We are deeply sorry our customers are the innocent victims of this cynical attack on their travel plans by the leaders of Unite.
“We will continue to try to prevent this strike taking place, but we have reached a point when we must now offer some clarity to our customers who have waited with great patience since Friday when the strike dates were first announced.”
A combative Mr Walsh has previously outlines plans to recruit replacement cabin crew from within the ranks of British Airways’ staff, while also chartering fully staffed aircraft from rival airlines.
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During the strike the airline will operate all long-haul flights to and from Gatwick and more than half of short-haul flights at the airport.
All flights to and from London City airport will be unaffected by the strike action.
At Heathrow, the airline will continue to operate more than 60 per cent of its long-haul flights to and from the airport.
The airline will operate some of its own short-haul flights at Heathrow, and will supplement its schedule by leasing up to 22 aircraft with pilots and crews from eight different airlines based in the UK and Europe.
This will enable the airline to operate around 30 per cent of its short-haul schedule.
“Due to the numbers of cabin crew who have called in to offer their services over the weekend, the schedule will be slightly larger than we had originally anticipated,” explained Mr Walsh.
“Despite the desire of Unite’s leadership to ground the airline, the flag will continue to fly.”
British Airways has also agreed with 40 other carriers that customers can be rebooked free of charge during the actual strike period onto their flights if they had been due to travel on a BA flight which has been cancelled.
The airline has been mulling its response since Friday, following a The British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association’s (BASSA) decision to stage the strike.
The airline argues it is still available to hold further talks, but wants customers to have early warning of its flying schedule to allow sufficient time for alternative travel arrangements to be made.
British Airways has opened up an extra call centre, manned by staff volunteers, to help customers with rebooking and refunding queries. UK customers wishing to rebooked \re able to contact the airline on 0800 727 800.
Further updates concerned with the second strike period are expected after the first strike period has ended.
Further information is available at BA.com.