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THE BRITISH AIRWAYS STRIKE WATCH II
By Joe Brancatelli
A long dispute between British Airways and its flight attendants boiled over into a strike on March 20-22. The next strike is scheduled for Saturday, March 27, through Tuesday, March 30.
I've posted the latest details below. Like a Pinter play or a bad blog, you have to read backward for the full story since the newer posts are at the top. I'll update this page as necessary.
If you're looking for what flights British Airways claims it will be able to operate during a strike and what accommodations it will make for ticketed passengers looking for alternatives, surf here. Click here for information from the BA cabin crew involved in the dispute.
03/28/10 - THE CONDITION OF BA'S DEPARTURE CONDITION
Yesterday's first day of the second tranche of the British Airways flight attendants strike didn't affect any departures from the United States or Canada. Why? Because planes were already in position and flight attendants aren't officially on strike until they reach London. Today, however, is a different story. Since many flights didn't depart from London/Heathrow yesterday, BA has no planes or crews for many flight departures from North America today. As a result, half of the six scheduled departures today from New York/Kennedy have been cancelled. Both Houston departures are gone, too. Among other cities I checked, one of two Toronto and one of two Miami departures have been cancelled, too. However, it must be said that BA is clearly going to have more flights in the skies today than last weekend's second day. Last Sunday, all five departures from Los Angeles and San Francisco were dumped. Today, however, all five are still on the schedule.
03/26/10 - BA'S LOAD OF 'FACTS' AND ONE BASIC TRUTH
A new statement from British Airlines today is long on facts and statistics and rhetoric. And they are all in service of a single goal: To make you think British Airways is cruising through the flight attendants strike and actually improving its operations. But there is one basic truth to be found if you cut through the thicket of diversion: Each day during this four-day strike, British Airways says it expects to fly around 45,000 of the passengers originally booked to travel. That number is exactly the same number they promised to fly during last weekend's flights. So for all the extra flights and supposedly higher number of flight attendants crossing the picket lines, BA hasn't made any real progress beating (or "breaking," if you take the darker view) the union action.
03/25/10 - CHOOSING SIDES ON BA'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE
The last time British Airways took a strike, in 1997, it ended up costing then-chief executive Robert Ayling his job. So it's probably understandable that folks in Britain are now choosing up sides on the job current CEO Willie Walsh has done by imposing concessions on his flight attendants and then taking a strike when he couldn't get them to concur. Walsh apparently has the stock market, investors and financial analysts on his side, according to this dispatch from Bloomberg News. The story notes investors have pushed BA's share price up and many analysts give BA a "buy" rating. On the other side: a passel of British employee-relations academics. Many signed a letter that appeared today in the Guardian newspaper. Their conclusion: "Notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary, [Walsh's actions] are explicable only by the desire to break the union which represents the cabin crew."
03/24/10 - NO STRIKES AT AIR FRANCE OR TAP AIR PORTUGAL
British Airways and its unhappy flight attendant union seem to be on a collision course for a second strike this weekend, but there is some good news on the labor front in Europe. A barely noticed and hardly acknowledged strike by the Air France's flight attendants has been averted. It was due March 28 to March 31 and one of the issues was roughly equivalent to the BA case: Air France wanted to reduce the number of flight attendants per flight on routes serviced with Airbus A319 aircraft. Air France management agreed to defer the move for a year and the union called off its strike. Meanwhile, a strike at TAP Air Portugal has also been avoided. The airline's pilots cancelled their March 26-31 job action after TAP agreed to a 1.8 percent raise. That's the same amount TAP's other employees have received.
03/23/10 - WILLIE WALSH AND THE AIRLINE FACTORY
So my Seat 2B column this week covers some of the overarching themes in this fight between British Airways and its flight attendants union. BA chief executive Willie Walsh last year said one thing for public consumption after the carrier's record annual loss. Internally, though, he was gearing up to slash at the airline's employee base and labor costs. There's not a lot of love lost between several present and former generations of BA management and Unite, the politically connected union that represents about 12,000 of BA's flight attendants. Read all about it here.
03/22/10 - THE BA STRIKE: WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE
The battle between British Airways and its unhappy flight attendants goes back more than a year. It began heating up with a near-strike during the Christmas season of 2009. All of those details and the blow-by-blow of last weekend's strike can be found here.
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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.
THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.
This column is Copyright © 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.