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September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Balloting for strike action among British Airways” (BA) 3,200 pilots is now under way.
The British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) is conducting the ballot which will last until 20 February, at which point the union confidently expects a ”yes” vote for industrial action.
Union disquiet hinges on BA”s plans to start its new OpenSkies operation, with Balpa concerned that the airline will outsource work that could change pilot conditions.
Balpa maintains that pilots who come from OpenSkies as captains, will have to retrain with BA in order to work for the UK carrier. BA insists that ”there is no change to the terms and conditions for BA pilots, which are among the best in the industry.”
But this placatory stance has cut no ice with Balpa, which has also briefed City analysts about the effects any strike may have on BA”s operations and profitability.
”It is essential that City analysts know why there is a dispute and what harm BA”s intransigence will do to its future prospects,” said Balpa general secretary, Jim McAuslan.
”The rift between the airline and its 3,000 pilots has come about because BA is determined to break up its pilot workforce when it starts its new subsidiary.
”We believe these BA aircraft, serviced largely by BA staff, should be flown by BA pilots and not by those from around the world recruited to different standards from BA pilots and formed into a separate pilot body.”
Any strike action would clearly have a catastrophic effect on BA”s operations and comes at a time when the carrier is reporting healthy profit and decent load factors. Within the past few days, the airline also revealed plans to start business class only services to New York from London City Airport and is on the cusp of moving into its dedicated Heathrow hub of Terminal 5.
Balpa is insistent however, that feeling is running very high among its members: ”The decision to ballot for strike action was taken by representatives of all pilots, both long and short haul ” the decision was unanimous,” said McAuslan.
”That shows the strength of feeling. And it”s right that the City should know the nightmare that BA directors are sleepwalking into.”