British Airways Pilots Overwhelmingly Vote to Strike — What Happens Next?

Jul 23, 2019

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The British Airways Pilots Union Association (BALPA) voted this week in favour of taking industrial action during the busy summer travel period.

The vote came about because British Airways offered its pilots an 11.5% pay increase over the next three years. BALPA was unhappy with the offer and rejected it. It then asked its members to vote on industrial action, including striking. This vote was overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 93%.

BALPA stated that: “Settlement of this dispute is in BA’s hands. We do not wish to inconvenience our customers which is why we have tried to resolve this matter through negotiation starting last November — it is BA who has regrettably chosen to drag this out into the summer months”.

BA, on the other hand, said that it was “very disappointed” with the decision, though did say that it was open to working with the union to reach an agreement.

What Happens Next?

As the UK moves into the peak summer travel period next month, British Airways is anxious to ensure the pilots do not actually strike, as it has the potential to impact thousands of passengers. This week, BA lodged an injunction application with the High Court, seeking to blocking any strike plans and negotiations to resolve the dispute. Negotiations are currently on hold until the injunction is determined, according to the pilots union. BALPA must give two weeks notice of any strikes so if there are any disruptions to travel they will not occur for at least two weeks — at least until 6 August.

Even if dates are provided for strike action, and British Airways does not obtain its injunction stopping the strike, the strike may not go ahead if the union and airline can reach agreement before then. BA pilots have not called for strike action in 40 years.

British Airways has not yet advised how it plans to accommodate passengers during the busy period if the strike goes ahead. While some travellers may feel at ease changing to another airline that does not have the threat of industrial action, the problem is that August is such a busy period that it is unlikely there will be affordable alternatives.

However, if the strike does go through, it could cause quite a disruption to travel, as about 90% of BA’s pilots are represented by BALPA.

We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates if your travel is likely to be affected.

Featured image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy

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