New Delhi: British Airways on Monday grounded almost all its flights following a global strike by its pilots. Notably, the pilots began a two-day strike from Sunday midnight over their ongoing dispute with the airline regarding pay and other terms.

“We understand the frustration BALPA’s (British Airline Pilots’ Association) strike action has caused our customers. After months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we’re extremely sorry that it has come to this. We remain ready and willing to return to talks with BALPA”, the airline said in a statement. 

“Unfortunately, with no detail from Balpa on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100 per cent our flights.”

British Airways has said it is engaging in talks with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA). The pilots’ association further said the strike is a “last resort”, because of “enormous frustration” with the airline’s management. In July, the airline pilots rejected a pay rise of 11.5 per cent over three years.

The BALPA says its members have taken a “low” pay rise and made sacrifices during tough times and now that the British Airways’ financial performance had improved — its parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) reported 9 per cent rise in profits last year — they should get a greater share of the profits.

The British Airways, on the other hand,  says its pilots already receive “world-class” salary and the pay offer is “fair and generous.”

“After the 11.5 per cent pay deal is fully implemented in three years, the average captain will take home over GBP 200,000 a year, allowances included,” the airways said. On the other hand, the union says junior pilots are paid a base salary of only around GBP 26,000, although they receive several thousand pounds a year on top of that in allowances such as “flying pay” (payments for time away from base.”)

The British Airways indicated that the strike would cost the airline up to GBP 40 million a day.
The IAG, which also owns IBERIA and Aer Lingus airlines, reported a pre-tax profit of GBP 2.8 billion in 2018.

(With agency inputs)