(Bloomberg) — British Airways is preparing to cancel nearly all its flights on Monday and Tuesday after pilots vowed to strike following a breakdown in talks over a new contract, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The U.K. carrier will scrap both short and long-haul destinations, said the person, who asked not be be named because the information isn’t public. A spokeswoman for the airline, which is a unit of IAG (LON:) SA, declined to comment on any cancellations, but said BA operates about 850 flights a day.
The airline has accused the British Airline Pilots’ Association union of not acting in good faith by making “an eleventh hour inflated proposal” which would cost an additional 50 million pounds ($62 million). Balpa had put forward a new contract proposal and pledged to call off the walkout if management returned to the bargaining table.
Instead, a Balpa spokeswoman said Friday the strike is going ahead. “We’re still open to talking with BA but they have so far refused,” she said. BA said in a separate statement it remains “ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa.” The FT reported the airline later sent an email warning the pilots that anyone who goes on strike will lose generous travel perks for themselves and their families for the next three years.
The strike would be the company’s first involving pilots since the 1970s and could cause travel chaos for customers at the tail end of the busy summer season. The current demands relate to pay, profit sharing, and a share-awards program, and come after cockpit crew took salary cuts in the wake of the financial crisis to help bolster the airline’s finances, according to the union.
The union called for the action after mediated talks with management at the state-backed Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service ended without a deal. Cockpit crews voted to strike by a 93% majority in a poll in July, with the carrier saying the disruption could cost 40 million pounds a day.
Balpa is also campaigning at Ryanair Holdings Plc, where U.K. pilots plan to walk out for an additional seven days. Five days of strikes failed to disrupt schedules or bring the discounter — which uses many non-unionized pilots on contract — back to the bargaining table.
(Adds FT report in fourth paragraph on potential loss of perks)
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