• Today
    August 06

  • 05:31 PM

No end in sight for BA strike

marciadottin, marciadottin@nationnews.com

Added 31 May 2010

LONDON – British Airways cabin crew launched a new five-day strike yesterday as a bitter dispute with management over pay and working conditions dragged on with no sign of any breakthrough.Many flights to and from London’s Heathrow – Europe’s busiest airport – were affected by the walkout. But the airline insisted it could operate more than half of its services because more cabin crew than expected had decided to cross the picket line.Cabin crew walked off their jobs May 24 for five days and began the new round of strikes Sunday after talks collapsed Friday. They plan to strike for another five days beginning June 5, if a solution to the long-running dispute is not found.Seven days of walkouts in March over the same dispute cost BA around 43 million pounds (US$63 million).The two sides are at odds over staffing on long-haul flights and other work conditions.The airline said it planned to fly more than 70 per cent of its long-haul flights, compared to the 60 per cent it had operated during last week’s strike. Fifty-five per cent of British Airways’ short-haul flights will take off, slightly more than the 50 per cent last week.The airline said all BA flights would operate at London’s smaller Gatwick and London City airports.BA said it expected to fly 65 000 customers – about 75 per cent of those with a ticket – between today and Thursday.Heathrow airport’s Web-site showed about ten outgoing BA flights were disrupted yesterday morning, while a handful of BA flights arriving from places including South Africa, Washington D.C. and Egypt had to be cancelled.The Unite union, which represents about 90 per cent of BA’s 12 000 cabin crew staff, has blamed BA chief executive Willie Walsh for the deadlock.The union’s co-leader Derek Simpson reiterated yesterday that the dispute could be resolved if BA restored the low-cost travel – a cherished perk – it had taken away from striking workers.BA says it made a “very fair” offer to workers and the disputed changes, including fewer staff on long-haul flights, are necessary for the airline to cope in the wake of the financial crisis. (AP)

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