British Airways staff stage fresh wave of strikes

5th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Five more days of strikes by British Airways (BA) cabin crew got under way Saturday, the 18th day of action since March in an increasingly bitter and drawn out row.

BA said that it would operate 80 percent of long-haul and 60 percent of short-haul flights out of London Heathrow airport, while operations from London Gatwick and London City would be as normal.

The airline is also expecting to fly its full schedule of 26 departures a week to South Africa, with thousands of fans expected to fly out ahead of the football World Cup which kicks off on June 11.

Unite claims the dispute has now cost BA 119 million pounds (144 million euros, 172 million dollars). Earlier this week, BA announced that passenger numbers had fallen over 14 percent last month.

Although the third wave of strikes, due to end on June 9, are scheduled to be the last in the long-running row, more action is expected to be announced unless a resolution to the dispute can be agreed.

The strikes were initially called over working conditions but the two sides have now resolved their differences on that. However, there is now disagreement on the removal of travel perks from striking staff.

Last month, BA posted a record annual pre-tax loss of 531 million pounds.

The airline, which is slashing costs and merging with Spanish rival Iberia in a bid to return to profitability, has been hammered by the global economic downturn which has hurt demand for air travel.

© 2010 AFP

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