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British Airways cuts flights as crew goes on strike

British Airways has scrapped several flights after its 12,000 cabin crew started a five-day strike on Monday.

British Airways has scrapped several flights after its 12,000 cabin crew started a five-day strike on Monday. The strike is in protest of Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh’s plans job and wage cuts in an effort to overturn the record losses.

The flight cuts include 40 percent of long-haul services from the company’s hub at the Heathrow airport in London. They were supposed to carry about 25,000 passengers a day.

Negotiations failed
The airline had been in talks with the union representatives over the weekend, but all attempts to thwart the strike failed. The dispute about travel perks withdrawn from the staff involved in a previous strike, continued to linger.

Walsh said that Unite union, which represents the cabin crew, wanted to go back to the proposals it had earlier considered to be acceptable.

These strikes may cost the airline more than £100 million.

This five-day walkout was supposed to begin May 18 but was delayed as BA won a temporary injunction against the strike. Last week a U.K. Court of Appeal overturned the ruling; the subsequent talks between Walsh, Woodley and Derek Simpson, Unite’s joint general secretaries, did not bring out a unanimous agreement.

Union demands restoration of travel perks
Union leader Tony Woodley said that the strike could be offset if the company restores the travel perks for some employees. The passengers may have to suffer more; in case a settlement is not reached quickly, two more strikes are planned to start on May 30 and June 7.

The two strikes in March proved very expensive for the carrier as it cost £43 million ($62 million), adding to the record losses it has already suffered. BA reported an annual loss of £425 million, the biggest since it first sold shares to investors in 1987.
Based on the statistics from March, these strikes may cost the airline more than £100 million.

British Airways’ alternative plans
However, BA is trying to run as smoothly as possible, despite the canceled flights. It plans to fly 70 percent of the passengers using planes staffed by attendants who are prepared to overlook the strike and will also use eight aircraft and crews rented from charter companies. It aims to operate more than half of its shorter flights from the Heathrow, along with all other services from Gatwick and City airports.

For passengers who could not be accommodated, the company has also re-booked them with 53 carriers including Emirates, American Airlines and Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA.