Pilots' strike hits British Airways flights in Mumbai

British Airways to cancel some flights to Israel amid pilot strikes

The British carrier Monday said it has been forced to cancel nearly all its flights on the first day of the two-day strike by the pilots.

"It is completely unacceptable that BALPA is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action", said BA in a statement when the strikes were first announced. British Airlines Chief Executive Alex Cruz in a statement quoeted by Reuters had urged the union to come back to the negotiating table in order to resolve the pay dispute.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that BALPA said nearly all British Airways flights, totalling hundreds, were cancelled and an estimated 195,000 customers would be affected.

British Airways has began a two-day strike, grounding almost all of its flights and disrupting thousands of passengers in a dispute over pay.

The airline, part of the International Airlines Group (IAG), cancelled 1,700 flights ahead of the action by BALPA members in the first-ever pilot strike.

He said: "I'm really sorry for the position the cynical actions the pilots' union has put us in". British Airways' parent company, IAG, made a net profit of 2.9 billion euros ($4.98 billion) previous year.

British Airways only operates one flight itself to Australia, from London to Sydney via Singapore and Monday's flight arrived just after 5am, flight boards showed.

In an operational update issued last week, IAG Cargo told customers to check BA.com to see if their flights had been affected.

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At the center of the turmoil is a dispute over an offer by British Airways for an 11.5 percent salary increase over three years at a time the airline is posting healthy profits.

London's sprawling Heathrow Airport will be the most impacted by the work stoppage as it is BA's major hub and used for numerous company's long-haul worldwide flights. BALPA had said it would haved called off the strikes this week if BA had engaged with the offer. A fracture of the cost that British Airways will incur with a day's strike action expecting to cost up to £40 million from lost revenue. BA said on Monday that it will be in contact "in the next few weeks" to let customers who are traveling on or around that date know if they are affected. During the strikes, BA must offer passengers reimbursement for cancelled flights, alternate travel arrangements under comparable conditions or a new flight at a later date.

"You have the option to take an alternative flight with the airline to your destination, or cancel your flight and claim a full refund".

Both BA and the pilots' union Balpa has indicated that they are willing to start new talks.

The union turned down a proposed 11.5 percent pay rise for the forthcoming three years with the reasoning being they feel their workers are being shortchanged when pilots took a pay and productivity cut 10 years ago during the airline's loss-making years.

The airline has also set up a dedicated page with information regarding the strikes.

The agony for passengers could continue on Tuesday and also on September 27 as the industrial action by pilots is scheduled for these days as well.

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