British Airways have been rebuked by the UK’s aviation regulator for telling customers they won’t be able to fly during the upcoming strikes – when they are legally obliged to buy up seats with rival airlines for those impacted.
More than 3,000 Balpa members who fly for BA – including captains paid £167,000 a year on average – will strike on September 9, 10 and 27.
This it set to trigger the cancellation of hundreds of flights – with around 850 BA flights scheduled in and out of UK airports on each of the three strike dates.
Since the strikes were announced, a message on the airline’s website says: ‘If you have a flight booked with us on those dates, it is likely that you will not be able to travel due to BALPA’s strike action.
More than 3,000 Balpa members who fly for BA – including captains paid £167,000 a year on average – will strike on September 9, 10 and 27 (stock image of queuing at Heathrow)
‘We will be offering all affected customers full refunds or the option to re-book to another date.’
But most passengers should still be able to fly and be accommodated on the original dates of travel, as required by law.
Rival airlines such as Virgin and easyJet are expected to make considerable sums of money from BA, who are obliged to buy seats on their services, as reported by The Independent.
This has caused confusion with passengers, and now the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said has asked the beleaguered airline for an explanation.
Richard Stephenson, Director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: ‘We have been in contact with the airline to determine what has happened and are seeking an explanation to confirm how it complied with its re-routing obligations to consumers.
‘Passengers who have seen their flights cancelled should be offered the choice of reimbursement for cancelled flights, alternate travel arrangements under comparable conditions at the earliest opportunity which includes flights on other airlines, or a new flight at a later date at the passenger’s convenience.
‘We also expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are cancelled.’
Consumer watchdog Which? said the airline must ‘do right by passengers.’
Adam French, Consumer Rights Expert at the company, said: ‘BA must urgently get its act together and ensure that anyone whose flight is cancelled is rerouted regardless of whether it is with a different airline or not.
‘The airline also needs to do right by passengers who spent hundreds of pounds on new flights when they were wrongly told that their original flights had been cancelled and make sure they are not left out of pocket.’
A spokesman for BA said: ‘We are sorry for the frustration and inconvenience that this strike action has caused our customers, and our teams are working tirelessly to help them.
‘As soon as we were issued with dates, we contacted airlines across the world to support with rebooking agreements, and since Friday we have been providing customers with the option to travel on other carriers.
‘Our contact centres are operating 24/7, and we have brought in additional resource, with over 500 colleagues working to support customers during this time. ‘