British Airways strives to recover from impact of 3-day strike

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 24 Mar 2010

Latest business news from AP-Wire LONDON: British Airways said Tuesday it is canceling fewer flights through an upcoming four-day cabin crew strike because more employees want to cross the picket line.

The airline is still recovering from a three-day strike that ended Monday, in which the Unite union - locked in a long-standing dispute with airline management over pay and working conditions - went ahead with a walkout after talks collapsed at the end of last week.

The airline said that during the cabin crew's next strike from Saturday to March 30 its schedule at London's Heathrow airport will include up to 55 percent of short-haul flights and 70 percent of long-haul flights.

That compares to 60 percent of long-haul flights and only 30 percent of short-haul flights over the previous walkout.

BA said it will run a full operation using its own aircraft at the smaller Gatwick airport, also in London, and all flights to and from London City airport will be unaffected.

"As a result of the numbers of crew wanting to work, we are increasing significantly our flying schedule," Chief Executive Willie Walsh said in a statement.

Walsh said the airline had coped better than expected during the three-day walkout partly because many crew members ignored the strike call.

But the strike jeopardized BA's reputation and finances, with BA saying it cost the company about 21 million pounds ($31.5 million).

The Unite union and BA both claimed victory over the first strike. BA reported that nearly 98 percent of staff reported for work at Gatwick and more than half showed up at Heathrow, allowing it to reinstate a number of canceled flights.

But Unite said that only 300 of its 2,200 cabin crew scheduled to work over the weekend turned up, and accused the airline of counting inbound crew to inflate the numbers of staff on duty.

The airline is on track for a record loss this year after reporting an operating loss of 86 million pounds for the first nine months, compared to a profit of 89 million pounds a year earlier. - AP

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