BA says it can absorb strike

British Airways chief executive
Willie Walsh has told staff that should a potential strike by cabin crew go
ahead the airline is ‘as prepared as can be’.

By this week, 1,000 staff members
will have re-trained as cabin crew, he said in an email to employees. Six
thousand employees had volunteered to help should there be a strike.

Other plans included agreements
with rival air carriers that may allow passengers to transfer their bookings to
other airlines. BA will also be chartering 23 fully-staffed aircraft to operate
from Heathrow.

“These plans will allow us to
protect our customers’ travel arrangements better than many people imagined
possible in the difficult conditions that a strike by the biggest section of
our workforce is bound to cause,” said Mr. Walsh.

Dispute

Cabin crew, through the Unite
union, are in dispute with the airline due to changes in cabin crew numbers on
long-haul flights. An online poll by Unite indicated a third of cabin crew would
be in favour of a walkout lasting ten days or more.

A previous strike was averted over
Christmas 2009 by a high court injunction due to ballot irregularities. Unite’s
members have subsequently voted for industrial action. The earliest a strike
could happen would be 22 March, with the union having to give BA seven days’ advance
notice. Any strike must be announced by 15 March.

Unite said it will not strike over
the Easter holidays.

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