British Airways Pilot Strike Imminent

Filed Under: British Airways, Unions

If you’re scheduled to fly British Airways in the coming weeks, this is at least something that should be on your radar…

British Airways and their pilots have been in contract negotiations for quite a while, and not a whole lot has come of those talks so far. In late June, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) balloted members working for British Airways as to whether or not they’d like to strike.

A vast majority of pilots have indicated that they are in favor of a strike, and the ballot closes on July 22, 2019 (update: the ballot has now closed, and pilots voted in favor of a strike). We’ve now learned that British Airways and BALPA have spent the past couple of days discussing possible resolutions, though have gotten nowhere.

As BALPA shared on Twitter yesterday:

Two days of conciliation talks at ACAS between BA and BALPA have broken down without agreement. A strike ballot among pilots closes on 22 July. BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said “It is bitterly disappointing that despite two full days at ACAS we are still no further forward. BALPA tabled options for resolution but BA was not prepared to negotiate so there was no progress at all and no point continuing. Until BA changes its attitude there is little prospect of talks resuming.”

Notice needs to be given regarding a strike, so if this ballot goes as expected, and unless management comes around, you can expect that British Airways pilots may go on strike somewhere around August 5, 2019.

The fundamental issue that pilots have is that British Airways is experiencing record profitability at the moment, and the pilots feel that they’re not getting their fair share. They say that management has a permanent “fight for survival” mentality when it comes to paying employees, but that when times are good the rewards are only shared among management.

British Airways has offered pilots an 11.5% pay increase over three years, though pilots think that they deserve more, due to British Airways’ financial performance.

This sure could be a fun August for transatlantic travel on oneworld. Between American’s never-ending maintenance issues and a potential strike from British Airways, you might want to book elsewhere…

  1. Damn, booked on BA F w/ avios in August LHR-ORD. If flight is cancelled due to strike would they be required to find me another transcon in First (like LH or Swiss) even if I booked with points?

  2. @lucky – unrelated, but surprised you have yet to report on Delta engine failure (ATL-BWI) and emergency landing in North Carolina yesterday – very cool/scary video of the engine coming apart on ABC news!

  3. if the pilots want more pay, than is fair, go elsewhere,if the company makes a lose, willthey refund their wages, 12.5% over 3 years seems ok,as its on a god wage,

  4. BA likely has treated compensation as a low priority for too long and I don’t doubt that the pilots deserve a raise. But I think it’s also important to keep in mind that pilots have little direct impact on the airline’s profitability or customer experience. Would they be willing to take a pay cut if profits decrease? Pilots tend to argue that they deserve a raise when profits are good, but when profits are bad they blame management and refuse to take pay cuts.

    IAG is a publicly traded stock. The pilots can always buy some if they want to share in the profits.

  5. @ Kevin stupid and ignorant statement. I’ve been a union member for over 30 yrs and never been on strike.

    Every year they negotiate and I have had a pay increase on all but one year

    They protect contract hours , o overtime , holiday , pensions and other benefits. Without a union we would have no one to assist with negotiate

    Unions also offer health, legal advice and other benefits

    Employees could amend contracts within the law and employees would have no choice

    What we get exceeds minimum requirements. In fact without a union I doubt we would have had a pay increase in years if at all

  6. Does UK law allow for profit sharing instead of just raises? I don’t think that 11.5% is too bad, but would also think that if a Pilot Union is basing their compensation ask on the success of a company and not necessarily on market pay rates, then linking their pay to the profitability of the airline on any given year instead of a guaranteed bump would be more fair.

  7. Air France has not had any strikes this year, but British Airways pilots might strike? My oh my how quickly things change.

  8. In case of cancellation, does BA rebook you on let’s say AA or Finnair if you bought a revenue ticket? Anyone had experience with that? I have transatlantic flights coming up on 1st of September. Thanks.

  9. @Daniel B, and @Lucky – same here. We have flights on BA on Labor day and want to be prepared for what our options are. This could really f*** up a big trip. Lucky – a post on what to do would be helpful for readers!

  10. If assumptions are right I am on a return flight DXB-LHR on Jul 18 and back on 23 with BA. So I should be safe. And DXB-LHR-IAH is planned for last week of Aug so that also should be safe.

  11. The thing is, and if you read more about it you’ll see this, BA had terrible years and they made their employees take cuts to help out, with a “all for one, one for all” approach to keep BA afloat. Now that things have turned around, the pilots et al would like that same “all for one, one for all” to apply re raises.

    I wish my husband had a union to fight for him. The State congress just voted to not give them a raise, which means no raise for at least two years since they only meet every two years. They did this for years (four years no raises despite plenty of revenue), had horrible employee attrition and finally did a “catch-up” raise two years ago. Now they are making the same mistake again… short sighted.

  12. Trex,

    AA does have F on international flights, but it’s really not a lot different from J.

    My guess is that you will be rebooked on AA to LHR.

  13. Oh, bugger.

    Just booked four flights for my late August early September travels. Amazingly all four were available to upgrade the company paid WT+.

  14. @ Michael Arnold. No as city flyer is a different company.
    And the strike isn’t confirmed and no one knows what the effects will be
    The only problem is that it’s peak season and the alternatives limited

  15. BA has had this “circle the wagons” mentality about their people for a while now, and it’s pretty revolting. Then again, they feel the same about customers, so I suppose you could say that they’re egalitarian about considering everyone who’s not management to be the enemy.

    As to the financial side of things, can BA afford to give solid raises? Are the raises BA proposes able to keep up with (or more) the cost of living? Have the pilots taken hits in the past when BA had bad financial stretches? These points should be considered in the equation. It’s lovely to offer a 11% raise over three years, but if the employees don’t come out ahead of expenses, they’re still losing.

  16. We have R/T tickets from BOS to LHR for Sep 6th. Hope all is figured out by then. Anyone know if BA will rebook passengers on partner airlines if the strike occurs?

  17. Ask the pilots to contribute to the BA data breach costs and see if they change their tune – its give and take. 11.5% is a pretty good offer

  18. I have to take at least 20 flights with BA on business between August 5th and September 10th. This is going to make my life so much harder and more complicated. I hope that BA can resolve this otherwise I could be in for a terrible few weeks. I also feel that BA offered the pilots a very good deal. They are already paid a lot so an increase of 11.5% is very good. And while I’m all for them getting what’s right they just have to go on strike when I’ve got shorter trips to and from London.

  19. @Dave S – So the pilots are supposed to pay for BA being cheap to them and BA being cheap on security? So if your employer screws up by being cheap, you’d be good paying for that? I guess I’m just not as altruistic as you.

  20. The earliest BA pilots could go on strike is the 5th August. It does not mean there will be a strike on that date. This is a constant misinterpretation of the situation by the media.

    UK law is that unions must give 14 days notice of strike dates.

    They don’t have to announce dates as soon as the ballot results is declared. The union could very well leave it a couple of weeks – to allow for more negotiations – before announcing any dates and again they have to give 14 days notice.

    As for some of the anti union comments it is clear that those making them have no understanding of the pilots and other staff treatment by BA over the years. Failed promises to ‘make good’ the years when staff took actual pay cuts (not just no pay rise but a CUT) following 9/11 for example despite promises from BA that they would meet their promised obligations.

    And are there hundreds of pilots available for BA to recruit in a short period of time should pilots, as suggested by some leave for ‘something better’? And why would these supposedly available pilots go and work for BA when (a) they know BA is a bad employer and (b) there are better paying airlines around there?

  21. @lucky Have you seen any of the recent massive strike by EVA Air flight attendants? What are your thoughts on that?

  22. During my working life, whenever I became disgruntled or dissatisfied with my employer/employment, rather than hang around and cause disruption, I simply changed employment. Unfortunately it seems these pilots would rather inconvenience customers even though I’m sure there would be no difficulty in them finding alternative employment. Comes across as rather bloody-minded.

  23. BA pilots have taken pay cuts in the wake of 911 and in the wake of the financial turn down. All with the promise from BA that if they stick with them and help them through, they will be compensated. That has never happened. As for 11.5% well how much of that is self funded by changes to their terms and conditions and how much is simply just new money. Don’t rely on the headline figures being branded around by company heads trying to discredit a reasonable and affordable pay claim by the pilots and their union. Also in a world of almost 3% RPI increases year on year how much of a real terms pay rise is that.
    The other unions have given in to BA but with the caveat that anything BALPA can get for the pilots will be the same for them, BA are trying to isolate Pilots as pre-madonnas who get paid to much and asked for too much, the fact is they have shared in BA’s pain they deserve to share in BA’s profits.

    BA will not even engage with the union, they will not sit in the same room and have banned them from BA property.

    I sincerely hope your travel plans are not effected.

  24. So am I right in thinking that we have a flight booked for the 16th August so if no strike has been call on the 2nd of August our flight will go ahead as planned
    Also do they prioritise certain routes on the limited flight schedule like long haul Tec

  25. Me and my boyfriend due to fly home in BA F after three week vacation in

    Flying from JFK on 6th August… fingers crossed they strike after the 6th…. we are on the west coast until the 3rd and I am not cutting our trip short…

  26. Does EU261 cover this?

    Still waiting for a blog about being a millionaire from EU261.

    Now is a good time to make some €€€€.

  27. An 11.5% increase over 3 years would seem good in many employees eyes. However, if the other comments made here about pay cuts are correct, then the pilots in fact did share with BA’s pain in bad times, and they did so on the promise from management to share the good times when it comes. If good times did come and management never delivered, then they broke a promise. Even worse if management benefited from the good times while forgetting about their promise. Also noted some media reports that BA settled with FA and ground staff union. If those settlements are, we will abide by pay terms of pilots, then it is not settled, just punted. It is not always what is reported, but what is not reported.

    Thanks @ Bob. God speed to the BA pilots and workers.

  28. It’s good to hear a little balanced argument.

    A couple of things to bare in mind when you discuss,
    BA pilots took a 15% pay and productivity cut in 2008 to keep the airline afloat, not only has that not been returned im not sure they have not benefitted from the 2billion profit the airline just made.
    BA shorthaul captains are the lowest paid of any European legacy carrier.
    After a pilot pays £120k to train for two years he can expect to start on less than £30k.
    They have just given up a final salary pension to help the company.
    They work to the maximum EASA rules, that’s less rest than a uk lorry driver.
    A pilot cannot leave an airline due to seniority, seniority was put in place to enhance safety but it also chains a pilot to a company. A 20 year standards captain leaves BA he MUST join the new airline at the bottom pay scale as a first officer. Does a consultant or lawyer take a pay cut or demotion to change companies?
    There is a lot that the public is not told, don’t believe all you read.

  29. @Bobhope

    It’s good to hear multiple point of views including yours which lets people understand that the truth is never one sided. Based on what you wrote, for sure BA pilots have their good reasons.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *