British Airways is thought to be considering stripping travel allowances from pilots who are set to strike next week.
Members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) working for the airline are set to strike on 9, 10 and 27 September after rejecting a proposed pay deal of 11.5% over three years.
All BA staff with more than six months’ service are able to buy standby tickets for themselves and up to three family members for 10% of the full fare plus airport taxes. After five years staff are additionally eligible for an annual business class flight with their family to any worldwide destination, for which they only pay airport taxes.
The possible withdrawal of the benefits would mirror sanctions applied in 2017 to at least 1,400 Unite union members who worked as cabin staff for the airline. The employees in that dispute were also threatened with having their bonuses stripped.
Although the current pay offer has been accepted by members of Unite and GMB unions representing other BA workers such as engineers, cabin crew and ground staff, many pilots would like a greater share of the £2bn profit made by BA last year. Pilots are paid an average of nearly £90,000 rising to about £175,000 when allowances are taken into account.
Despite widespread newspaper reports of BA’s threat to pilots, Balpa told Personnel Today: “BA hasn’t said anything about this to its pilots.” This is despite one pilot reportedly telling The Times: “Taking away subsidised travel is just an act of sheer provocation on BA’s part. We won’t stand for it.”
BA said that it was very sorry that Balpa had decided to pursue this “reckless course of action” and conceded that many customers would not be able to travel on the strike days. It would be offering refunds and rebookings for passengers booked on cancelled flights it said.
There are no talks currently scheduled to resolve the pay dispute. BA chief executive officer Alex Cruz last week promised he would seek a resolution but according to Balpa, no new proposals have been received.
On 21 August the High Court rejected Ryanair’s attempt to prevent Balpa members working for the airline striking from today until 4 September.