BA cabin crew start four-day strike

LONDON: British Airways (BA) cabin

crew launched a four-day strike today, the second wave of action in a week as part of a bitter, long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

BA has pledged that more than three-quarters of its passengers — more than 180,000 out of 240,000 — will still be able to travel as planned during the walkout, which follows a similar three-day action last week.

A further 18 per cent of customers have been rebooked with other airlines, or have switched their travel dates to avoid the strike period, it said.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh, who insists the company could fold in a decade unless the changes he wants take place, said the “vast majority” of staff were “pulling together to serve our customers and keep our flag flying”.

“At the same time, I feel really sorry for those customers whose plans have been ruined by the Unite union’s completely unjustified action,” he added.

Amid growing hostility

between BA and Unite, the

trade union which represents

BA’s 12,000 cabin crew, the

union claimed the cost to the airline would be 100 million pounds (111 million euros, 149 million dollars).

Talks between the two sides broke down on the eve of the first strikes, and relations have become increasingly bitter.

Unite warned today that the airline’s proposed reforms would leave staff unable to offer the service BA is famous for, saying: “Willie Walsh’s slash and burn strategy is undermining the brand that BA has built over recent years.” “We are trying to transform the way we operate because the industry is changing and the economic conditions have changed so radically that we’ve got to change,” Walsh said.