British Airways has confirmed it will increase its flying schedule for the period of Unite’s strikes, following a decision by a “significant” number of employees to support of the company’s contingency plans.
As Unite attempts to internationalise the strike – encouraging members of the US union Teamsters to come out in support – BA has been working behind the scenes to develop a coherent schedule.
The first three-day-strike is scheduled to begin on Saturday, with four days of industrial action scheduled to take place from March 27th.
Following Unite’s decision to call strikes, the airline published its flying schedules for the affected period, aiming to fly 60 per cent of its customers as planned.
However, since Monday, the number of cabin crew offering to work as normal has “increased significantly” - and is expected to grow further.
British Airways has also stated a number of other airlines offering their help for the strike period – both through charters or provision of spare seats - has increased from 50 on Monday to more than 60.
These developments have enabled the airline to reinstate some previously cancelled flights and provide extra capacity for both long-haul and short-haul destinations.
For example, this will allow the airline to fly home more competitors and supporters from the Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, explained BA in a statement.
All flights from London City Airport are expected to depart as normal, with long-haul services from Gatwick also expected to depart on schedule.
Short-haul services from Gatwick – both within the UK and to European destinations – are expected to be hard hit. However, it remains unclear how many flights will now be cancelled following the most recent developments.
Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, said: “The determination of our colleagues across the whole business to keep the flag flying this weekend is increasing.
“I am delighted by the numbers of cabin crew who have been getting in touch with us to express their disillusion with Unite’s position. Our crews just want to work as normal, do their usual terrific job and look after our customers.
“We will now have the potential to fly more than 4,000 additional customers per day and serve more destinations. We believe this is a helpful move at a time when customers are facing rising fares with alternative carriers.”
“Morale among our operations teams is high. Yesterday was our most punctual day at Heathrow for months, thanks to the efforts of all parts of the airline.”