A series of four strikes lasting five days each, and called for by Unite, the union representing the cabin crew employees of British Airways, threatens to pose an inconvenience for many air travelers in Europe later this spring. Unite says the scheduled strikes are fueled by recent and future scheduled cost-cutting moves by the airline. Moreover, a new contract proposal by British Airways, binding upon new employees of the airline, is another divisive issue. Promotion on merit rather than seniority and pay fixed at a certain percentage above the market rate are two aspects of the contract proposal most offensive to Unite. When the airline and the union reached an impasse last November, the union tried to get a court injunction but failed.
British Airways’ chief executive called this past year the most difficult in industry history. Business travelers, the target market of British Airways, have themselves looked for ways to cut costs recently. Analysts say the recent ascendancy of airlines with various semi-low cost and low cost business models have hurt the bottom line for airlines like British Airways. Dates of the strikes were announced yesterday. The strikes are scheduled for May 18 to May 22, May 24 to May 28, May 30 to June 3, and June 5 to June 9. During the scheduled strikes, short haul flights from London Heathrow (IATA: LHR; ICAO: EGLL) are supposed to run as scheduled. Strikes this past March cost British Airways 45 million GBP (66.4 million USD, 52.3 million EUR).
British Airways was founded in 1974 following the merger of the British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways. It has the largest fleet of any airline in the United Kingdom, and flies to more destinations outside the U.K. than any other carrier located there. Its main hub is London Heathrow. British Airways announced intentions last month to merge with Iberia Airlines, the flag carrier of Spain. Both airlines will operate under a holding company called International Airlines Group, but both brands will continue to exist.