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British Airways cancels more flights just in time to avoid paying compensation

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
File photo dated 09/09/19 of British Airways planes at Terminal Five at Heathrow Airport, London, on day one of the first-ever strike by British Airways pilots, as flights will continue to be disrupted on Wednesday, despite the end of a 48-hour strike by pilots in a dispute over pay.
BA pilots may walk out again later in September. Photo: PA

Tens of thousands more British Airways (BA) passengers face travel disruption after the airline cancelled hundreds of flights later this month over another pilot strike.

Members of the pilots’ union are planning to walk out again on 27 September, after a two-day walkout earlier this week failed to resolve a row over pay.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) hit out at BA for cancelling flights just in time to avoid being obliged to pay compensation as well as refunds or new flights.

EU rules on passenger rights say they are entitled to compensation only if they receive fewer than 14 days’ notice of a strike.

But BA is reported to have begun contacting passengers on Thursday afternoon, 15 days ahead of the next walkout. It has posted further details and advice to affected passengers on its website.

READ MORE: BA strike ends but chaos rolls on as half of planes at wrong airports

Balpa called the timing “inconsiderate to its customers,” but BA said it had to give customers certainty so was informing them in advance.

Pilots took industrial action for the first time in the airline’s history on Monday and Tuesday, demanding a bigger share of the company’s profits than the 11.5% pay rise offered over three years.

The first walkout saw 1,700 flights cancelled, with nearly 200,000 passengers affected.

BA has received almost half a million calls from frustrated passengers this week looking for answers as their travel plans were thrown up in the air.

But there are few signs of a breakthrough in talks so far.

A BA spokeswoman said: “We have put forward new ideas through Acas this week and have called on Balpa to meet us face to face as soon as possible to return to negotiations.

“However, we need to give our customers certainty, so we have contacted all those affected by the union’s strike on 27 September.”

Balpa said in a statement it had hoped the gap between the strikes would give time for talks.

“We had today been exchanging new ideas to do that via Acas (the independent arbitration service) and so it’s irresponsible and inconsiderate to its customers that BA has pulled out and decided to start cancelling flights now, just to save money on compensation.

“BA did not respond to our latest proposals before cancelling these flights. Passengers who will be affected by these cancellations should know that we have given BA multiple opportunities to work with us so we could call off this action.”