BA faces further disruption as union threatens strike in height of summer

British Airways faces the threat of further disruption this summer after the Unite union unveiled plans to vote out check-in staff in the event of a strike at London Heathrow Airport.

The union said on Monday it would vote for 500 workers at Britain’s busiest airport in a pay dispute – a vote in favor would pave the way for action in July to bring about a maximum of disturbances during the summer peak.

Unite said BA management had refused to reverse a 10% pay cut imposed during the pandemic, and its members were “rightly furious and ready to act”.

“A strike by our members will have an immediate impact on service to customers, so I urge BA to pull together and restore wages to these workers immediately,” Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said.

BA said an offer for a 10% pay rise for this year had been rejected by staff and the union’s plans were “hugely disappointing”.

The 500 elected staff make up around half of Heathrow’s customer service team. Voting will take place from June 7 to 27.

A strike would be a major new headache for the travel industry, which for weeks has been plagued by a deluge of cancellations and delays as airlines struggle to find enough staff to meet a increase in demand for flights after most pandemic travel ends. limitations.

BA was forced to cancel 10% of its flight schedules between March and October, and its chief executive Sean Doyle shuffled the airline’s top management this month.

EasyJet customers have also experienced significant delays and cancellations over the past few days.

A computer outage on Thursday caused around 200 flights to be canceled without notice, and the airline also proactively canceled 24 flights a day between May 28 and June 6 to try to avoid last-minute cancellations. .

Despite this, passengers complained of chaotic scenes at London Gatwick airport over the weekend, with some flights canceled or delayed without notice.

EasyJet said a variety of factors, including air traffic control delays, led to crew shortages as some staff were furloughed for exceeding their legally permitted hours of operation.

The airline said it no longer suffered from crew shortages, but removed some of the seats from its planes to allow them to operate with fewer crews and leased charter planes to meet current demand for flights.

Consumer group Which? called on Britain’s aviation regulator to be given new powers to fine airlines that fail to respect consumers’ rights to cancellation and refunds.

Elsewhere, German charter airline Tui and Dublin Airport were among other airlines to apologize to customers for disruptions in recent days as operational problems spread to parts of European industry .

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