23-Mar-2010 10:19 AM

British Airways states strike contingency plans have been "very successful"

British Airways announced (22-Mar-2010) its contingency plans for the three days of industrial disruption have been "very successful". Over the first two days, the airline operated 273 (78%) of its long-haul flights and 442 (50%) of its short-haul flights. Seat factors were good at 68% in long-haul and 69% in short-haul. Club World seat factor was just under 60%. In addition, the airline operated 70 positioning flights, which in most cases carried cargo, to return passengers home with minimum disruption. BA has now warned that the strikes may have knock-on effects for the rest of the week, as more flights than usual have been scheduled to make up for the weekend (Al Jazeera, 22-Mar-2010). The carrier reportedly plans to announce a revised schedule for the second phase of the strike (27-Mar-2010 to 30-Mar-2010) on 23-Mar-2010 (Times Online, 22-Mar-2010). [more]

  • Unite stated (22-Mar-2010) on day three of the strike, of the 77 flights scheduled, 37 operated empty, 37 were "contingency" flights and only three operated as normal. The union added only 300 of the 2,200 scheduled cabin crew showed up for work over the weekend (BBC News, 22-Mar-2010); [more]
  • BA stated (22-Mar-2010) Unite claims are false, adding that as it is publicly listed it is legally obliged to ensure that it does not release information that is misleading or inaccurate. Unite responded stating the comments are a "brazen attempt" by the carrier to prevent media reporting Unite’s side of the present dispute. The union added all information it has provided to the media "has been reliably sourced"; [more]
  • Costs: BA stated its current best estimate is that the three day strike will cost it GBP7 million per day. However, it does not expect the strike to effect its full year earnings expectations to 31-Mar-2010. CFO, Keith Williams stated earlier in the month he expects the carrier to report a pretax loss of approximately GBP600 million (Bloomberg, 22-Mar-2010);
  • Renewed negotiations: Unite urged (22-Mar-2010) BA CEO, Willie Walsh, to agree to talks to settle the cabin crew dispute before the second phase of strikes. The union stated it is yet to receive a response from the carrier and the second phase of the strike is now likely to go ahead. Unite has also appealed to BA's Chairman and Board of Directors to bypass Mr Walsh and enter negotiations with the union. BA stated it remains open to talks. [more]
  • Other reactions: London First, a UK business group, warned the strike has threatened the UK’s reputation (Bangkok Post, 22-Mar-2010).

Unite: "Willie Walsh’s silence is deafening. Where’s Willie? He has not been seen or heard from today while his business grinds to a halt. BA needs to wake up and understand that a dispute like this can only be resolved through negotiations and agreement. Cabin crew have sent the company the most powerful message over the last three days that they will not be cowed or bullied into accepting industrial dictat. I am proud of their solidarity and resilience, and the support they have given to this dispute, which none of them wanted. I would like to hear BA’s board justify spending millions on a floundering strike-breaking operation when they turned down an offer of more than GBP55 million in cost savings from their own cabin crew. We estimate that BA may have spent as much as GBP18 million on leasing airplanes over the last three days," Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary. Source: Unite, 22-Mar-2010.

London First: “The strike is reminiscent of a best-forgotten era. The message from BA's London-based business customers to both sides is: get back to the negotiating table, and to union members: get back to work in the meantime,” Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO. Source: Bangkok Post, 22-Mar-2010.

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