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British Airways strikes now looking likely for early August as pilots prepare to vote

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As we broke on Twitter yesterday morning, BALPA – the main British Airways pilots union – has submitted formal notice to British Airways that it intends to hold a strike ballot.

What are the British Airways strike dates going to be?

We don’t know.  However, under UK law, an employer must be given seven days notice of the intention to hold such a ballot.

The Independent is quoting a timetable of:

ballot papers posted to members on 26th June

deadline for receipt of ballot papers of 22nd July

earliest date for strike action – given the legal obligation to give notice – of 5th August

What are the British Airways strike dates?

It’s not just the pilots, of course, although with no pilots the rest of the staff might as well stay at home anyway.

Unite and GMB, which represent most other employees at the airline, are running a few days behind BALPA but are also about to submit a similar formal notice to BA.  The three unions have been conducting a joint pay negotiation.

What is the current BA pay offer?

The current offer is 11.5% over three years, consisting of:

  • 4% in 2019
  • 3.5% in 2020
  • 4% in 2021

However, whilst this sounds ok, it does not reflect the reality of how crew are paid.  A relatively low base salary is topped up by a substantial number of additional payments to reflect, for example, nights away from home.  These allowances would not change and therefore the effect on total take home pay is far lower than the numbers quoted.

British Airways is also proposing a new bonus scheme.  The current one is complex with many factors – such as passenger NPS (basically ‘how happy are you to recommend BA to friends?’) – driven more by management initiatives than staff.

A statement from the Unite union to staff yesterday said:

Despite record profits, British Airways remain unwilling to share such success with those who helped create it.

The mindset of the so called “fight for survival” has become a permanent fixture. Cost cutting measures introduced with undue haste are never rescinded or returned to those who made them – even when they are no longer necessary or when record breaking profits are announced.

It would seem that staff only exist in management thinking when blame must be apportioned, when times are bad, or a when collective belt tightening is required. It is easy to recount the seemingly endless list of cost cutting initiatives in every area. Different names but the same outcome, “cost” i.e. your pay or terms and conditions were reduced for the greater good of the airline.

During the bad times, ordinary staff have shouldered more than their fair share of the airline’s cost cutting initiatives and ever reducing terms and conditions, without either acknowledgement or reward. It is therefore entirely reasonable that they are now able to share in BA’s success.

However, this has simply not been the case. Management do share in this success through a series of profit-based initiatives which can add up to millions of pounds, but staff do not – and it is for this principle, that BALPA, the pilots’ union, has issued formal notice to BA of their intention to hold a strike ballot for their members.

Unite and GMB will be balloting their respective members in the near future.

What are the British Airways strike dates?

What impact would a strike have?

It depends.  On days when BALPA strikes, it is effectively game over.

On days when Unite and GMB strike, it may be possible to keep a fair number of services on track.

On long-haul, British Airways currently has excess Mixed Fleet staff.  Strong recent hiring, the grounding of some Boeing 787 aircraft due to engine issues and the wet leasing of the Air Belgium aircraft (which have their own crew) means that there are cabin crew to spare.

On short-haul it is a different matter.  BA is apparently short on both crew and pilots, with many being rostered to their legal limits.

Qatar Airways has provided cover to British Airways in the past, providing fully crewed aircraft (Qatar has spare capacity at the moment due to the UAE blockade).  I am not sure if the CAA would allow this to happen again.  British Airways has also roped in managerial staff before to cover, although hopefully not for pilot roles …..

Anyway …. fun and games.  Let’s see how it pans out.


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Comments (171)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Dave Winchester says:

    They could rope in management to cover for pilots.

    Willie could fly a plane!

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Well we know Alex can find a Hi-vis at least….

    • ChrisC says:

      only if they have maintained their flying certification.

      And I would surmise that not all of them have,

      I know a rail company who assumed that all their management staff who were previously drivers would be able to cover a strike had a shock when very of them had maintained their route and train type certifications.

  • Luke says:

    just to clarify, would the earliest date of a strike be the 5th August? I am due to fly on the 4th for a couple of days in Paris, getting home on the 7th could be interesting. assuming the days of the strike would be published, we would that likely be?

    • Rob says:

      Getting back from Paris unlikely to be a struggle given the number of alternatives.

    • Lady London says:

      Eurostar has cheap offers launched in past 2 or 3 days covering that period. I am not usually impressed by Eurostar sale pricing but actually some tickets to/from local stations worked out to quite decent prices.

  • Doug says:

    You know what the money is when you sign up, but as the company progresses shouldn’t you also expect your salary to progress with it, particularly if you sacrifice during the bad times and those on the executive levels always seem to come out smelling of roses

  • Nigel says:

    argh… BA already cancelled one of our flights at short notice a few months ago and so I didn’t get the TP to reach silver (they put us on a non-oneworld carrier). Hoping the same doesn’t happen in August and I miss out on status this year due to cancelled flights.

  • ken says:

    Come on. It’s Geneva.
    Clearly it would be an inconvenience but stacks of other options.

  • Rantallion says:

    Perhaps this is the real reason BA cancelled the BA100 747 domestic flights which were scheduled over the August Bank Holiday? It would have been embarrassing for BA to have to cancel them due to BALPA strike action.

  • Russ says:

    Going forward should we keep our RFS bookings but also buy fully refundable tickets with other airlines doing the same route? I’m thinking buying last minute walk up tickets are going to be very expensive in August.

    • Shoestring says:

      sounds like a plan if you have the money to do it

      I’m slightly concerned for my wife & 2 kids as they have 3 flights in August – and my wife’s holidays are a bit mean with current employer so every day counts – but complicated by the fact my daughter’s friend is accompanying them on the first holiday tranche, on a different booking…fingers crossed

    • Anna says:

      If you ended up using the refundable tickets, I doubt your insurer would pay out for them if you booked them prior to a strike date being announced.

    • Rob says:

      Fully refundable tickets are usually fixed price – and a price you won’t pay.

      • Russ says:

        @shoestring – hope that works out for everyone. It’s the uncertainty which is unsettling and probably doing as much damage as an actual strike. Thanks Rob and Anna, will keep that in mind.

        Well I’ve bought some Wizz tickets as always wanted to give them a try. Luton Courtyard for previous night stay and parking. As long as we get back in time for other half to earn their keep I’m good 🙂

        • Shoestring says:

          they should be OK for the 1st trip out (to our place in the sun) as on review of dates they return on 5th Aug

          2nd trip outward is second half of August so right in the trouble zone, I can’t see which card I paid on as it was an IB90K booking and IB don’t seem to give the last 4 digits of credit card, I just know it wasn’t Gold Amex

          trying to remember which other card I was spending on 24th Nov LY! 🙂 & why! definitely not Virgin credit cards, fairly sure our Nectars were already closed by then…I hadn’t got the Sainsbury’s purchase card at that time… hmm the perils of card gamesmanship!

          • Shoestring says:

            just hit paydirt! 🙂 it was me mentioning Sainsbury’s purchases card that sparked it – LY we had 2 Tesco purchases credit cards going to generate £15K cashflow for 30 months, which had to be paid back to zero in January/ February 2019 – I remember giving it a last push towards the end of LY and I found the transaction 🙂

            big relief, if we have to, I can get my wife to follow the S75 logic and it should reduce the risk of her losing a day or two’s holiday

            those purchases credit cards have a good use, btw – they don’t get discussed here as not points/ loyalty but I guess several of us have them?

          • Shoestring says:

            just checked: [Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act also applies to foreign transactions]

            so paying IB in Euros is covered, guess how much my credit card charge was? £100.20!!! 🙂 (fees on 3 Avios tickets)

            actually ISTR that the <£100 min limit would not have mattered if there were a points contribution involved that gives it equivalent value much higher, @1p point , 22500 Avios + £102 = £327 – or so I would have argued – but £102 says I don't have to!

  • Steveo_uk says:

    Quick question: 3x Avios returns to IST booked for Aug (2-4-1 and a billy no mates). My travel insurance covers me for strike action. If, closer to the time, the strike goes ahead and I have to rebook 3x tickets last minute at likely high prices – do you think the travel insurance will cough up?

    Would make a good HFP article this…

    • Rhys says:

      Given that your insurance covers you for strike action it probably will, but there is probably a procedure to follow which will be in the small print of your paperwork. Worth giving them a call and seeing what that procedure would be.

      • Shoestring says:

        Your travel insurance probably won’t cover the cost of rebooking new tickets (you never know, read the detail).

        But if you booked on a credit card (and >£100), you are covered by S75 for the new high cost tickets.

        In fact, that’s probably a decent tip for anybody booking August BA flights – book on a credit card to get S75 protection.

        • Anna says:

          Thankfully I always use a BAPP to pay for BA travel products for the 3 avios per £1…

          • Shoestring says:

            yes that’s a credit card

            not sure charge cards offer the same protection ie ‘putting you right’ if a flight gets cancelled and you have to buy a more expensive flight

            I think it stops at chargeback? or?

          • Prune says:

            I thought I would have a chat with the Amex Platinum department about what happens in a situation where there is a strike. They will only cover £300 per person insured as part of travel inconvenience.
            I suppose the question is what are ba obliged to offer if your flight falls on a strike day?
            I ask this having 4 club world tickets booked to the States using points and 2 x 2 for 1 vouchers.

        • Steveo_uk says:

          Thanks for the replies. Now that is something I had not thought of. It was £50/head onto the BAPP so I’m over the £100 there. Could a credit card provider really be liable for the additional cost? If the strike runs close it could be £700+ a seat.

          • SimonW says:

            Amex have there own S75 protection – it doesnt cover consequential losses. Have had the same problem with them in the past when Monarch went bust. They wouldnt cover the higher priced replacement tickets….

          • Shoestring says:

            @Steveo – definitely a yes, well-documented in this exact scenario ie flights more expensive – it does have to be a credit card though & not a charge card

            @SimonW – yep there was a niggle worrying me there, I think we probably paid on Gold charge card for my wife’s flights in August, must look it up

          • ChrisC says:


            you claim EU261 from the airline not your credit card.

        • Scallder says:

          Harry, as Simon mentions below the tickets form BA are always billed individually, so each ticket will be £50 only. Therefore not sure S75 will necessarily apply here unfortunately. Not sure what the rules are about the cost being split down into smaller amounts in the legislation…

          • Shoestring says:

            @Scallder – I referenced a case the other day where the credit card tried to wriggle out of refunding the flights in that exact situation, ie paid tickets together >£100, but individual ticket <£100. Case went to Ombudsman and credit card co lost.

          • Shoestring says:

            From Bott & Co – who offer to process your claim under EC261 for you (for a fee) little ad (they are meant to be pretty good & take away the stress) in return for the quote: (they refer to Monarch but same applies for strike-cancelled flights)

            What can I claim for?
            As long as you paid for the tickets by credit card and the ticket cost was more than £100 then you are covered by Section 75 which makes your credit card company liable in exactly the same way as Monarch would be in respect of a breach of contract.
            Generally, you can claim either the cost of your Monarch tickets back, or alternatively, if greater, the cost of additional losses, but not the cost of the Monarch tickets.
            Therefore, if your Monarch flights were cancelled and you incurred costs greater than the amount of your tickets, such as rearranging your travel plans, then there are a number of things you could potentially claim from for:
            Cost of tickets on alternate airline (where these cost more than your original Monarch tickets).
            Cost of transport to airport if you incurred extra transport costs (perhaps due to flying from an airport further away).
            Additional accommodation costs incurred as a result of waiting extra nights for alternate flights.
            Lost holiday time due to alternate flights arriving after the original Monarch flights were due to arrive.
            Other reasonable out of pocket expenses as a result of rearranged travel plans.

          • Scallder says:

            Helpful to know that has already gone through the ombudsman – thanks!

          • Charlieface says:

            Please remember you can claim Ec261 compo from credit card under S75 as it’s a contract liability

      • Tim tinsley says:

        I had this last year with the Ryanair strikes (and before that with the BA strikes, tip, dont plan to travel this year on the 8th August).

        With ryanair, I booked a back up refundable ticket on an alternative airline. When Ryanair cancelled my flight they refunded the ticket. My AMEX platinum card travel insurance paid the difference between the ryanair ticket and the replacement ones that I had purchased i.e. I didn’t “profit” from the insurance.

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