Holiday travel plans in turmoil over BA strike threat

THE threatened 12-day strike over Christmas by British Airways cabin crew could bring a devastating end to what had been a difficult year, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has said.

“This is the last thing the industry needs at the moment,” said ITAA president Jim Vaughan.

The impact of the threatened walkout from December 22 to January 2, following a 9-1 vote in favour of industrial action, would be felt at Aer Lingus and British Midland Airways, the main feeder airlines for BA’s long-haul flights from London to the States and the southern hemisphere, he said.

“This is very, very bad news at a time which is not just the busiest for the industry, but is also the most lucrative,” said Mr Vaughan.

If there was no climb-down by those threatening to strike, the damage to the industry would be extreme, he said.

More than one million passengers could have their Christmas holiday plans wrecked by the threatened 12-day strike over staff cuts, pay freezes and working conditions within the troubled airline.

BA boss Willie Walsh said the strikes were an overreaction and “completely unjustified”, while rival airlines moved to tempt customers affected by the action. “This is a very cynical exercise by cabin crew especially at a time like this.”

Len McCluskey, Unite’s assistant general secretary, said he hoped the size of the vote would force BA to reopen negotiations. “We have taken this decision to disrupt passengers with a heavy heart and we are hoping that the company can still avoid it happening.”

Cabin crew were not “mindless militants”, but decent men and women who were proud of BA and did not want to bring the company down.

The strike will ground hundreds of flights and cost BA millions of pounds on top of its current losses of around €1.6 million a day.


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