Earlier today Unite union members employed by British Airways’ so called mixed fleet (post 2010 employees, and generally on lower salary rates) confirmed that a 16 day strike is scheduled to go ahead ( from July 1st to July16th ie 16 days), after the airline refused (the Union claims) to accept the union’s final compromise position on outstanding issues relating to sanctioning of striking cabin crew following previous bouts of industrial action.
In effect the current strike is a bit of a puzzle, and bound to punch a huge financial hole in parent company IAGs overall profitability, as the wet lease and worldwide disruption costs are factored in; simply much of the core negotiation on revised mixed fleet pay scales had broadly been agreed, says Aviation Expert, Julian Bray.
Julian Bray was speaking on BBC5 Live on Friday 30 June moments after the CAA had confirmed permission for the wet lease of a mix of nine short haul Qatar Airbus A320's and A321's to operate on behalf of British Airways, and indeed the aircraft have been arriving all afternoon at London Heathrow to be drip fed into the truncated BA schedule for the next 16 days, and possibly a week or two following the strike; as the airline then has to play catch up and ensure its flying staff and assets are correctly deployed.
Both Qatar and BA are members of the oneworld alliance of 14 airlines, serving over 1,000 destinations in more than 150 countries worldwide
It should be noted that Qatar owns some 20% of the BA parent company IAG, which is based in Spain and therefore considered to be a company operating within Europe. However Qatar Airways is clearly not inside Europe so formal permission had to be gained not only from the EC but also the UKs Civil Aviation Authority. Both permissions have now been granted despite some reported last minute objections.
Any passenger unhappy about flying on a Qatar Airlines aircraft could possible claim a full refund under the EC261/2004 regulations, which sets out the protocol ensuring that BA ( and other airlines in a similar position) have a legal 'duty of care'
CAA on twitter: UK CAA @UK_CAA
Essentially the airline is legally required to rebook affected passengers to their final destinations. In addition the airline is required to provide hotel accommodation and food (given as Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) if delays are protracted - all at the passengers earliest convenience, not at the airlines convenience!
When the action was first announced, over two weeks ago, it was seen as a clear hardening of their negotiating position, Unite (one of five Unions involved with BA) said it would ‘vigorously’ pursue legal action against British Airways to the ‘highest court in the land’ on behalf of 1,400 cabin crew, who they claim were sanctioned for taking strike action in a long running pay dispute. Optimistically BA though its press office is still maintaining only a few will be disadvantaged, although nine aircraft from Qatar are being wet-leased and some flights merged. This is what they are now saying:
All our customers will be able to fly to their destinations, despite industrial action by Mixed Fleet Unite. We will operate 99.5 per cent of our schedule. Our oneworld partner Qatar Airways will be operating a small number of short-haul flights on our behalf.
We have merged a very small number of Heathrow long-haul services and all customers affected have been notified over the past week.
"New [Mixed Fleet] cabin crew in their first year working full time at British Airways receive more than £21,000 based on pay, allowances, incentive and bonus. This is in line with cabin crew at competitor airlines. We had reached a deal with Unite on pay, which the union said was acceptable. They should call off this unnecessary strike and allow their members to vote on the pay increase."
The strike timetable is given as union members labour being withdrawn from 00:01 Saturday 1 July to 23:59 Sunday 16 July 2017 INCLUSIVE! Disruption of course will carry on for a week or so, following the strike as assets are re-positioned.
The Unite Union says British Airways has 'a blacklist' designed to levy sanctions on striking cabin crew. Sanctions have in the past included mixed fleet BA cabin crew seeing bonus payments ( running into hundreds of pounds) withdrawn, and the scrapping of staff travel concessions. Some mixed fleet staff are so strapped for cash, they've claim to be sleeping in cars and holding down several jobs.
Something is clearly very wrong if this is the case. Perhaps the Chairman and Chief Executive of BA, a Mr Cruz, from Bilbao, (with or without his high viz jacket) can throw some light on it?
Early June Unite suspended a planned four-day strike by British Airways’ mixed fleet cabin crew due to start on June 16th, in a 'last-ditch' attempt to resolve the dispute through fresh negotiations.
Earlier talks at the conciliation service ACAS, saw Unite Union claiming ‘deep frustration’ over British Airways’ alleged failure to send its key decision makers to the talks. This Unite writing to British Airways management with a final compromise positon for acceptance by noon today.
Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said at the time “The refusal by British Airways bosses to meaningfully consider our compromise offer is deeply disappointing.
“A resolution to this long running dispute was within the grasp of British Airways, but instead of grabbing that opportunity, bosses rebuffed it. It now means British Airways faces an entirely avoidable two week strike and prolonged legal action on behalf of over 1,400 mixed cabin crew.
“Unite believes the divisive way British Airways has targeted striking members of cabin crew is unlawful and amounts to blacklisting. The airline should be under no illusion of Unites' intent to pursue justice on behalf of members 'all the way to the highest court' in the land.
“We would urge British Airways’ bosses to come to their senses and think again.”
The union says there has been a total of 26 days of strike action since the beginning of January which has led to the cancellation of flights and the airline chartering, or ‘wet leasing’, aircraft from other airlines such as Titan Airways, Vueling and Thomson Airways to cover striking cabin crew.
Operationally the airline may decide to combine flights, charter in from other code share airlines, and operate a pre- empted positioning of extra aircraft to maintain mixed fleet schedules, which are thought to only cover some 33% of BA routes.
Since 2010 all British Airways new cabin crew employees join what is called ‘mixed fleet’, where despite promises that pay would be 10 per cent above the market rate, the union claims basic pay starts at just £12,192 with £3 an hour flying pay.
The airline also used a busy news day to slip out the news that the BA computer meltdown has cost the airline (so far) £80 million. To add to its woes, the Heathrow baggage conveyors for some BA flights broke down on June 15th leaving passengers without their luggage, as they were forced to leave it behind or possibly be denied boarding.
It is also now reported that entry into, and leaving the USA is now backing up as president Trumps new decree restricting travel from six mainly Muslim countries starts to bite. Department of Homeland Security staff are said to be taking their time in closely examining all passports and supporting documentation, as they suspect the use of 'borrowed' passports appears to be on the increase, as many travellers soon to be on the denied USA entry list try to beat the new draconian immigration regulations.
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, www.freelancedirectory.org?name=Julian.Bray.aviation.comment,
Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com,