British Airways to utilise Qatar Airways planes to overcome strike

British Airways to utilise Qatar Airways planes to overcome strike

British Airways has been granted permission to lease aircraft from Qatar Airways in order to cover gaps in services caused by a 16-day strike by cabin crew.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said British Airways would be allowed to lease nine Qatar A320 and 321 planes.

The aircraft will be staffed by Qatar Airways crew.

The decision was taken after consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority.

British Airways will use the planes to minimise flight cancellations and passenger disruption from today.

ADVERTISEMENT

Qatar Airways holds a 20 per cent stake in British Airways-parent International Airlines Group.

The 16-day strike by British Airways ‘mixed crew’ was prompted by what Unite union calls “poverty pay” at the carrier.

The long-running industrial action concerns around 2,000 airline staff who, if they joined since 2010, fly short and long-haul routes mainly from Heathrow airport.

British Airways said disruption from the strike would be minimal, with up to 99.5 per cent of services operating.

A spokeswoman for the carrier said: “Our Oneworld partner, Qatar Airways, will be operating a small number of short-haul flights on our behalf.

“We have merged a very small number of Heathrow long-haul services and all customers affected have been notified over the past week.”

Unite had requested the CAA recommend blocking the wet-lease deal, claiming it broke EU regulations.

The union brought about the unprecedented strike action because of a pay dispute and it claimed the airlines had removed concessions and perks for staff if they had taken part in previous strike action.

The Qatar Airways planes are available following a blockade of the small Middle Eastern country by its regional rivals, led by Saudi Arabia.

The political dispute has seen a number of countries close airspace to Qatar, forcing the suspension of flights to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, among others.