UK government allows British Airways to get strike cover from Qatar Airways
The British government says it will allow the lease by British Airways of some Qatar Airways planes and crew to help cover a 16-day strike by some UK staff.
A spokeswoman for the carrier was quoted by the BBC as saying: “We will operate 99.5% of our schedule. Our Oneworld partner, Qatar Airways, will be operating a small number of short-haul flights on our behalf.”
“We have merged a very small number of Heathrow long-haul services and all customers affected have been notified over the past week.”
Some British Airways cabin crew began a two week strike on Saturday in a prolonged pay dispute, risking further brand damage and travel disruption, although the airline said most passengers would be able to fly.
Members of BA’s “mixed fleet” cabin crew - those who work on both long and short-haul flights - have been in conflict with BA since last year over wage offers which the Unite trade union has described as “poverty pay”.
Although the pay dispute has largely been resolved, Unite said the walkout, the longest industrial action in the row, is a response to sanctions on union members involved in previous industrial action.
While the impact on flights is set to be limited, the stand-off is another potential threat to the airline’s image a little over a month after thousands of passengers were stranded by a computer systems outage caused by a power surge.
“Customers will take a dim view and a great British brand risks being further tarnished. We call on British Airways to drop the threats and drop the sanctions and resolve this long-running dispute,” Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said in a statement.