British Airways cancels flights ahead of next pilots’ strike

British Airways has begun cancelling hundreds of flights ahead of the next strike by pilots.

Tens of thousands of passengers are expected to be affected by the disruption on September 27.

The 24-hour walkout follows a two-day strike on Monday and Tuesday when 1,700 flights due to carry 195,000 passengers were cancelled.

The dispute over pay involves members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa).

British Airways (BA) has offered a pay rise of 11.5% over three years, which it says would boost the pay of some captains to £200,000, but Balpa says its members want a bigger share of the company’s profits.

Both sides have said they want to resume talks, but there is little sign of the deadlock being broken.

The airline began contacting affected passengers on Thursday afternoon, 15 days ahead of the strike.

Under EU law, passengers are only entitled to compensation if they receive less than 14 days’ notice of a cancellation.

A spokeswoman for BA said: “On August 23, Balpa, the pilots’ union, called a strike on September 27. It is now a month since we shook hands on a pay deal. We urge them to call off their strike and return to negotiations.

“To give our customers as much certainty as possible, we are now contacting all those affected to offer them a full refund or a re-book on an alternative date, destination or airline.

“We are very sorry that Balpa’s actions will affect thousands more travel plans.”

When BA cancelled flights ahead of this week’s walkout, many passengers complained about difficulties contacting the airline, while some were sent cancellation emails in error.

The airline said it had added extra staff to its customer relations teams and had up to 900 people answering phones at peak times.

It had dealt with 491,000 calls and 125,000 tweets since the strikes were announced last month.

Adam French of consumer group Which? said: “British Airways must learn from its recent mistakes and not repeat failings that left many passengers’ travel plans in tatters if it has any hope of recovering from this mess and regaining the trust of its customers.

“The airline must now proactively inform those affected by these fresh cancellations of their rights to be rerouted or refunded and make sure that no customers are left footing the bill for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the ongoing uncertainty.”

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