30-Mar-2010 10:15 AM

British Airways states contingency plans for the second period of strike have again been successful

British Airways announced (29-Mar-2010) contingency plans for the second period of industrial action have again been "very successful". Over the first two days (27/28-Mar-2010), the airline operated 308 or 83% of its long-haul programme and 623 or 67% of its short-haul programme. Seat factors continued to be strong at 75% in long-haul and 64% in short-haul. In addition the airline operated 61 positioning flights to carry cargo and return passengers home with minimum disruption, nine less than last weekend. Wet lease aircraft decreased from 22 to 11 (costing approximately GBP495,000 for the last two days) as BA operated a larger number of its own aircraft. The carrier operated 100% of its normal schedule at Gatwick. [more]

  • Unite responded claiming (29-Mar-2010) BA has been inflating its flight numbers during the strike by including codeshare, wet lease and freighter services. The union added only 359 crew had reported for duty on 29-Mar-2010, including 100 international crew, who were not on strike. A further 331 declared themselves to be on strike and 21 were sick, meaning 50% of those rostered to work were on strike. The union also clamed only 42% of services were departing from Heathrow on 29-Mar-2010, with the majority of aircraft leased from other carriers (Manchester Evening News, 29-Mar-2010); [more]
  • BA responded stating codeshare services operated by other carriers were not included in its figures (Dow Jones, 29-Mar-2010). The carrier stated it had only leased 11 aircraft over the four day strike, compared to 25 in the first phase of the action. BA stated that any empty flights allowed it to ensure it had aircraft in position for when the strike ends on 30-Mar-2010. Empty space in baggage containers on these flights has been allocated for cargo, to maintain revenue;
  • Cost of strike: BA now estimates the strike cost it GBP5.5 million per day over the weekend. Earnings expectations for the year ended 31-Mar-2010 continue to be broadly unchanged. The carrier previously forecast a pre-tax loss of GBP600 million for the year;
  • Negotiations: Unite stated the two parties are still no closer to resuming negotiations during the third day of the second phase of the strike action (Bloomberg, 29-Mar-2010). The union stated it is still open to talks with the carrier. If Unite plans to hold another strike, it must announced on 08-Apr-2010, in order to provide seven days notice before the expiry date of its last ballot on 15-Apr-2010. British Airline Stewards and Stewardesses Association warned the worst is yet to come, and that Unite would take further industrial action if the issue was not resolved (Daily Mail, 29-Mar-2010);
  • Crew pay: Unite announced (29-Mar-2010) plans to raise GBP700,000 from Unite's branches to support cabin crew during the industrial action period. The funds will be in addition to the money the union is paying to crew in strike pay. The union plans to raise the funds through charging a 2% levy to its branches in the next quarter; [more]
  • Pilots pay: Unite also claimed (29-Mar-2010) pilots working as cabin crew during the strike are earning GBP166 per hour. In contrast, in a normal working day a BA cabin crew member with five years experience would earn only GBP15,000 or GBP16 per hour. Furthermore, the union claims temporary crew brought back for the dispute are being paid only GBP11,000 p/a. All strike-breaking crew will also receive GBP100 each way for their journey as an incentive to come to work. BA denied the claim, stating they are working under normal pilot arrangements (RTE News, 29-Mar-2010). [more]

Unite: "This [funding] is an unprecedented move and it shows that Unite is absolutely determined to give our members all the support they deserve in winning this battle against the BA bullies. We continue to search for a decent settlement in this dispute but cabin crew are not going to be driven back to work for lack of resources," Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary. Source: Unite, 29-Mar-2010.

Unite: "Far from cutting cabin crew costs, BA is now operating the world's most expensive crew in a bid to break its far cheaper, world-class workforce. Where is the sense in running an ever-creaky contingency operation built on throwing money at £166 an hour pilots pretending to be crew when they have nearly 12,000 fully-trained professionals who should be working? Dividing your workforce like this is madness. It should be parked in the hangar before it does needless and long-term damage to the good working relations between pilots and crew that are critical in aviation. Strike breakers - whether they are pilots or other BA colleagues - acting as cabin crew are misguided. Their actions are not solving this crisis, they are helping prolong it - and they should not expect thanks from BA for their troubles because this company will turn on them in due course just as they have turned on the crew. The sooner they get on with doing their own jobs and not crew's, the quicker this dispute is settled and the better for everyone," Len McLuskey, Assistant General Secretary. Source: Unite, 29-Mar-2010.

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