CANCELLED (updated 20/9): British Airways pilot strike on 27th September is called off in a bizarre BALPA move

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If you are holding an industrial dispute – or indeed any sort of dispute – standing your ground is one of the keys to success.  Once you are seen as weak, your opponent realises that it has the upper hand.

I mention this because it was my gut reaction to the announcement that the British Airways pilot union, BALPA, has called off the strike on 27th September.

The reason for cancelling the strike is bizarre.  It is NOT because British Airways has returned to the negotiating table.  BALPA claims that it has cancelled the strike because BA is NOT willing to negotiate, which makes zero sense to me.

What is BALPA expecting now?  That British Airways will be rushing back to negotiations?  I’m not so sure.

British Airways strike off

British Airways has now reinstated a percentage of its schedule for 27th September.  If you had been transferred to another flight, either on BA on a different day or on another airline, you have the option of moving back.  If you accepted a refund, British Airways can rebook you for the price you originally paid.  What BA cannot do, of course, is move you back if you took a refund and then paid to rebook on another airline.

Who knows where this goes now?  This is the full announcement from BALPA:

The British Airline Pilots Association has today called off the next strike scheduled for 27th September in the dispute between British Airways and its pilots.
BALPA said the strikes on 9th and 10th September had demonstrated the anger and resolve of pilots. It was now time for a period of reflection before the dispute escalates further and irreparable damage is done to the brand.
BALPA hopes BA will now change its approach and negotiate seriously with a view to ending this dispute.
BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said:
“Someone has to take the initiative to sort out this dispute and with no sign of that from BA the pilots have decided to take the responsible course. In a genuine attempt at establishing a time out for common sense to prevail, we have lifted the threat of the strike on the 27th September.
“BA passengers rightly expect BA and its pilots to resolve their issues without disruption and now is the time for cool heads and pragmatism to be brought to bear. I hope BA and its owner IAG show as much responsibility as the pilots.”
Should BA refuse meaningful new negotiations, BALPA retains the right to announce further strike dates.

You can keep up to date with the strike news on this page of

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  1. Calling off the one-off strike is a prelude to more strikes.

    As devious as it sounds, scheduling a strike and then calling it off on the last minute has more financial impact. Salaries has to be paid, airport fees for gate usage, take off/landings for plane repositioning but no passengers!

  2. Maybe time to buy some IAG stock in the morning

  3. Charlieface says:

    I think it’s a very clever move. In fact, if they wanted to play really dirty, BALPA could keep BA on its toes, cancelling flights left right centre, while still they turn up for work and get paid.
    Although if I were them I’d strike every 1 out of 3 days just to wind them up.

  4. Andy Miller says:

    Not so bizarre. My feeling is that as BA has already cancelled flights for the 27th, BALPA have decided that losing a days pay is now pointless. They have already succeed in their objective. Caused BA the maximum disruption for no loss of pay. Very clever.

  5. Patrick Burford says:

    They 100% know why they’ve done this. BA will fly a lot of flights empty, making the financial impact to them much greater. Not to mention the (even more) overtime hours call center staff will do to try and convince people to rebook onto BA

  6. Hoping BA do reinstate flights, I want to fly back to London on 27th!

  7. I agree – brilliant decision:
    1 – Public opinion not so negative on the pilots (and how they ruined everyone’s holidays)
    2 – Pilots avoid strike fatigue (it must cost them a fair amount to miss a day of work)
    3 – It still costs BA shed loads of money.

    And it is very repeatable – BA don’t cancel everyone and they are on the hook for EU payments. BA do cancel everyone and they still have to pay everyone’s wages.
    BA could ‘lock out’ the pilots (I think) – I am basing that 100% on US sports strikes, so don’t quote me. But that would cost them lot in the negotiations and PR war.

  8. ‘Responsible’ my arse, this is calculated and devious, designed to cause the maximum headache and cost to BA at minimum expense to pilots. I’ve got to hand it to them, this is very clever.

    Also BALPA were caught out last week by the 20% of pilots who did report for work on strike days, far higher than the union had expected. If that held this time, their hand would be weakened. So they played a good card upfront instead.

    I’m thinking of investing in a popcorn company.

  9. I am sympathetic to the pilots but why does this only work one way? If the pilots can legally hold a strike by giving a certain amount of notice, they should also give up any entitlement to return to work and be paid on that date unless with the agreement of the employer. Simply using the law to mess employers about trivialises hard-won industrial rights.

  10. TGLoyalty says:

    Have to be honest while some of you think this will effect BA having been at JFK on the 10th all but one flight left and the planes were a long way from empty.

    Think the flights that were cancelled will be reinstated and lots of people will go back to their original plans as if it never happened. Or bag themselves a bargain on a plane with light loads

    • Steve Jeness says:

      The strike applied to any pilot reporting for duty in London on the 9/10th. A flight leaving JFK on10th and arriving in London on 11th was never part of the strike timings. 24 hours earlier was a very different story in JFK!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Except all the flights were originally cancelled then reinstated two days later.

        • You’re talking rubbish. Strikes applied only to BA pilots reporting for duty on the 9th and 10th at LHR. So i don’t know what reinstated flights you’re on about. The whole airline was grounded for two days at LHR. 1 BA HND flight and that was it. Other handful were wet leased.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Well I’m most certainly not talking rubbish as my flight leaving JFK and all other on the 10th were cancelled on the Friday of mass cancellations (and I mean cancelled with a proper strike through on MMB not just a phantom email.)

            I know on flyertalk many people did rearrange between Friday and Sunday when I had confirmation my flight actually wasn’t cancelled and therefore reinstated on MMB.

            So while which pilots were out on strike on not on whichever days is an interesting side note my actual point is that for 48 hours every passenger on those flights thought their flight was cancelled. Lots would have called to rebook, some may have taken a refund, some business folk may have decided to use their right on fully flexible tickets. Yet come the day of the 10th many of them were still completely full because 7 days is a lot of time when it comes to people flying all over the world on one of the biggest names around.

  11. We’ll see how this plays out, I don’t think this is as structured and clever as many do. I think the pilots are starting to bottle it. Time will tell.

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