British Airways cancels ‘nearly 100% of flights’ in pilot strike over pay

British Airways has canceled almost all of its flights as a result of a 48-hour strike by the carrier’s pilots over pay – leading to widespread travel disruptions for thousands of passengers.

The airline said in a statement Monday that it had “no way of predicting how many (pilots) would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly.”

As a result, BA said it had “no option but to cancel nearly 100%” of its flights and advised passengers to avoid airports during the two-day action, the first-ever walkout by the airline’s pilots.

The company said it stands ready to return to talks with the pilots’ union, the British Airline Pilots Association, and that it is offering affected customers full refunds or the option to rebook.

“We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused our customers. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this,” BA said.

BA said it has offered pilots a pay raise of 11.5 percent over three years, but the union said its members want a bigger share of the company’s profits and accuses BA of making massive profits at the expense of workers who made sacrifices during hard times. A further strike is scheduled in for Sept. 27.

Union leader Brian Strutton said pilots are determined to be heard.

“They’ve previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times. Now BA is making billions of pounds of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits,” he said.

In an interview with Sky News, BA chief Alex Cruz said the action was an “own goal” and part of a “cynical” action by the union. He also demanded fresh talks with no preconditions.

“We want to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible for our customers and, frankly, for everyone that works at British Airways,” he said.

Cruz, who also demanded fresh talks with no preconditions, refused to put a cost on the disruption, though a court heard in July that BA believed the bill would be up to $50 million a day.

With Post wires

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