An estimated 10,000 passengers on British Airways flights between Ireland and the UK are expected to be affected by the two-day strike at the airline which began on Monday.
Flights to and from Heathrow Airport in London are most affected in the row between BA and the pilots’ union Balpa, with about eight flights each day from Dublin to Heathrow – and vice versa – have been cancelled.
The strike marks the airline’s largest in their history.
The carrier is locked in a pay dispute with its 4,300 pilots, and the strike could affect the travel plans of nearly 300,000 people around the world.
“After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this,” British Airways said in a statement.
The airline said it remains willing to return to talks with the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA).
“Unfortunately, with no detail from BALPA on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100 percent of our flights”.
BALPA said that BA “resorted to breaking agreements and threatening pilots who will strike, which is bound to make matters worse” after they emailed their 4,300 pilots on Friday warning that strike action would be a “serious breach” of their contract.
The airline further threatened to withdraw a travel perk, where staff can book tickets for 10 per cent of the full fare plus taxes, for three years if they chose to strike.
BALPA branded the airline’s behaviour “illogical and irresponsible” and “will further deepen the fall out with their pilots.”
BALPA has rejected a pay increase of 11.5 per cent over three years that the airline proposed in July.
BA believes the offer would see flight captains receive “world-class” pay and benefits of around £200,000 (€220,000) a year.
BALPA also pointed to a nearly 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profits reported by BA’s parent last company IAG last year as the rationale for a pay bump.
Passengers who may be affected are advised to check online to see whether they are affected by cancellations.