Come Fly With Me…Maybe: British Airways’ September strikes to cause at least five days of consecutive cancellations

September 4, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Following disputes over pay, British Airways (BA) has announced three days of strikes on the 9th, 10th and 27th of September.

What does this mean?

Passengers not only flying on these dates, but also those flying on surrounding dates, including the 8th, 11th and 12th of September, were told their flight would be cancelled and to either get a refund or rebook. The knock-on effect of the strikes has led to further cancellations that will have a negative impact on BA.

It was reported that many passengers also received emails requesting they rebook their flights owing to disruption caused by the strike action, only to call up after and be told their flights were “100% not cancelled”. This aggravated customers who have now repurchased unnecessary flights in an attempt to reach their destination.

Why should law firms care?

It is first key to look at why the strikes are occurring. After a string of failed negotiations, the British Airline Pilots’ Association voted in favour of striking on 22 July. In fact, around 93% of BA pilots voted in favour of it. The owner of BA, IAG, attempted to get an injunction to prevent the strike from going ahead. This was overturned by the High Court. The ability to strike is crucial to many industries and is an effective way of demanding and receiving fairer pay and better working conditions. Therefore, had IAG’s injunction been awarded, it may have opened the floodgates to further strike actions being blocked and disrupted the power balance between employers and employees. Despite the ability to strike being a cornerstone of labour laws, the proposed strike will undoubtedly cause mass disruption.

The strikes have evidently put a large burden on BA and their customer support team who are attempting to arrange alternative flights for frustrated customers. Coupled with the bad press BA has received in regards to its handling of the situation, BA could be at risk of losing the strong reputation it has built as Britain’s airline. BA’s profits are likely to suffer over this period.

Such action could also potentially trigger similar action from other airlines, leading to more disruption over potentially busy periods. In fact, Ryanair have begun a 3-day strike over their pay and working conditions. However, all Ryanair flights to and from the UK are going ahead as around 95% of pilots are not supporting the strike action. 

Unlike Ryanair, BA’s strike action is supported by the majority of the airline therefore causing mass disruption. In fact, if any further strike action is taken by BA or other airlines, especially over key travelling times, the aviation industry could be facing a loss in profits and a severely damaged relationship with its customers.

Do you think BA should listen to the pilots and avoid disruption? Or do you think BA should continue rearranging flights and not meet the pilots’ demands?

Report written by Harina Chandhok

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