BA contingency plans in place

The strikes by British Airways
cabin crew that will take place from 20 to 22 March and 27 to 30 March are set
to disrupt services, but according to the BA website at this stage all flights
are continuing to operate as normal.

Chief Executive Officer Willie
Walsh however noted in a short online video statement that he understood that
passengers would be concerned and that the strikes would create uncertainty.

“I am staking my personal
reputation on ensuring that we can do whatever we can possibly do for our
customers. We’ve got very advanced contingency plans in place,” he continued.

Mr. Walsh said the airline intends
to fly all its flights out of London City and long-haul flights from Gatwick.
He added that there is a ‘significant contingency plan’ in place to allow the
carrier to operate a large part of its Heathrow schedule.

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation
said it is encouraged by BA’s responsiveness to the Caribbean and by the contingency
plans the airline had in place.

“The UK
remains an important market for the Caribbean.
The region receives 1.4 million tourists from the UK annually, representing 25
per cent of all European arrivals, and six per cent of total arrivals. Many of
our CTO member-countries are in fact highly dependent on the UK market. For
example, 39 per cent of tourist arrivals to Barbados
are from the UK,”
read a statement.

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation
went on to say  it expects BA flights to
remain undisrupted in Antigua; Barbados; Bermuda; Grenada; Kingston and Montego
Bay, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; St. Kitts; Saint Lucia; Tobago
and Trinidad.

However, BA has advised the trade
organisation that whilst it will do ‘all it can to protect the travel plans of
its customers to the entire region.’ it is ‘considering its options’ for
Nassau, Turks & Caicos Islands and Grand Cayman.

Spurned

The Unite union said Friday that BA
had ‘spurned a proposal’ before submitting a formal offer, which was
subsequently rejected by union members. Unite Assistant General Secretary Len
McClusky commented that the negotiations had been ‘unnecessarily difficult’.

“I represent a workforce, which has
repeatedly made it clear that it is proud of its company and prepared to make
extraordinary sacrifices to see it succeed.

“The customers they care for have
always been at the forefront of their concerns.

“But we have been faced with a
management which at times has almost seemed to want a dispute.  Every time
talks appeared to make progress, the chief executive or another senior manager
has popped up making public statements designed to inflame the situation. 
This has led to the view that BA management’s real agenda is destroying trade
unionism among its employees,” said Mr. McCluskey. He later commented that BA’s
counter-offer was subsequently withdrawn ‘without explanation’.

Disappointed

Mr. Walsh said he is disappointed
that Unite had ‘chosen to disrupt the travel plans’ of BA customers, describing
it as ‘a big blow’.

“Without question, British Airways
has done everything in our power to reach agreement with this trade union. We
have been in negotiations and discussions with this trade union for over a year
now… a year where we faced the most significant crisis this company has ever
seen,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Walsh said the focus during the
year has been to secure jobs in BA and that no cabin crew had been asked to
take a pay cut or face voluntary redundancy.

“We have been able to achieve
significant change and significant savings by working with our cabin crew and
other people across the business,” he said.

Up to 1,000 crew members have been
re-trained by BA in order to step in as auxiliary cabin crew during the planned
stoppages. The airline has also said it may charter aircraft and crew from
other carriers to ensure services could continue.

LOCALbaSTORY

There’s a chance the looming British Airways cabin crew strike will have a negative impact on flights in and out of Grand Cayman.
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