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British Airways enters 20th day of strike action, Mr Walsh "absolutely determined"

8-Jun-2010 8:37 AM

British Airways entered its 20th day of strike action on 07-Jun-2010 (BBC News, 07-Jun-2010). BA CEO, Willie Walsh stated he is “absolutely determined” to overcome the strike and will “hold out for as long as it takes” (Bloomberg/Reuters, 07-Jun-2010). Mr Walsh commented that the ongoing issue between the carrier and the union was not over travel concessions and there will be no trade off point between the cost of the strike and savings from cost cuts. He added he is available to resume talks with Unite at any stage and the carrier’s most recent proposal remains available”, after Unite accused Mr Walsh of neglecting the issue to travel abroad. BA plans to take steps to operate all long-haul flights, should the strike continue, with Mr Walsh stating the union has “failed in its efforts to ground” the carrier. He declined to comment on whether he expects Unite to launch another strike ballot. The carrier handled 72,000 passengers on 07-Jun-2010 (UPI, 07-Jun-2010).

  • Union response: Unite announced (07-Jun-2010) the strike has now cost BA GBP140 million. Unite estimates that, despite BA's vastly expensive and divisive contingency operation, yet again over 40% of its operation has been hit by the strike. Flights to important destinations in the BA schedule, including New York JFK and San Francisco, continue to fly but with passenger numbers severely down and some flights half empty. Unite also claimed that some flights are so empty, the carrier is now looking for volunteer passengers. This is because, as BA continues to seek volunteer crew to break the strike, it is now encountering applicants with no flight experience at all. Volunteers need to have flown in order to become crew, which is why BA are asking them to fly as passengers. Unite also stated it is available for talks, with Joint General Secretary, Tony Woodley, ready to return to the UK if talks are to resume. [more]
  • Joint General Secretary, Derek Simpson, meanwhile accused (06-Jun-2010) BA of being more interested in "diversions and smoke and mirrors" rather than resolving the dispute. [more]
  • Schedule: British Airways World Cargo confirmed (04-Jun-2010) British Airways is flying 80% of its longhaul and more than 60% of its shorthaul schedules at London Heathrow Airport during the latest cabin crew strike period (05-Jun-2010 to 09-Jun-2010). Additional belly-hold capacity is also available on positioning flights, which makes the capacity available for cargo much higher. Longhaul and shorthaul freighter programmes remain unaffected, as do all services in and out of London Gatwick Airport. [more]

British Airways: “What we are doing is absolutely right. We are looking to secure the long-term viability of BA. I am here on business … We have people available to meet and are ready to talk … It’s not about travel, that’s not the issue at the heart of the dispute. This is no trade off. This is about ensuring British Airways has a cost base that’s on an equal footing with its competitors … We’re going to hold out for as long as it takes. We are in an industry that needs to change. We cannot ignore the inefficiency we see … They [Unite] failed in everything they have tried. We have demonstrated through the vast commitment of BA people that BA will continue to fly. I’m very confident that we will continue to increase the amount of flying that we are doing,” Willie Walsh, CEO. Source: Bloomberg/Reuters, 07-Jun-2010.

Unite: "BA is more interested in diversions and smoke and mirrors than actually resolving this dispute. I have made it clear that as joint general secretary I am available any time day or night to meet with BA and Willie Walsh to attempt to resolve this dispute. BA is the real obstacle. We have made it absolutely clear that if BA reinstates our members' travel concessions we would suspend the strike action. This would cost the company nothing, instead the company is willing to see its passengers' travel plans disrupted while the airline loses millions," Derek Simpson, Joint General Secretary. Source: Unite, 06-Jun-2010.