British Airway cabin crew to strike from early Saturday

11:45, March 20, 2010      

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British Airways (BA) cabin crew will start a three-day strike early Saturday after talks between the airline and the Unite union collapsed on Friday.


British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh (C) speaks to reporters after talks with the Unite union broke down at the trade union congress headquarters in central London March 19, 2010. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Local media reported the strike will start from midnight, with a second scheduled for March 27.

BA cabin crew are striking over changes to pay and staffing levels imposed by the airline last November. BA suffered heavy losses in recent years and is trying to cut its annual cost by 62.5 million pounds.

The airline's chief executive, Willie Walsh, said the strike was "deeply regrettable". "Tens of thousands of BA people stand ready to serve our passengers and BA will be flying and will continue to fly through these periods of industrial action," he said.

Tony Woodley, general secretary of Unite, the union representing BA's cabin crew, said: "BA does not want to negotiate and ultimately wants to go to war with this union."

BA has announced contingency plans that will allow it to fly 65 percent of its customers during this weekend's strike. A total of 1,100 flights out of the 1,950 scheduled to operate during the first three strike dates will be cancelled.

But all long-haul flights and more than half of short-haul flights from London's Gatwick airport are expected to operate as normal. At Heathrow, more than 60 percent of long-haul flights will operate, though only 30 percent of short-haul flights are expected to operate with the help of aircraft leased from eight rival airlines.

Source: Xinhua
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