Gulf air passengers face possibility of autumn strikes

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CANCELLED FLIGHTS: During previous industrial action, scheduled flights to the Middle East, including those from Bahrain and Dubai, were canceled as a result of strike action by BA cabin crew.(Getty Images)

CANCELLED FLIGHTS: During previous industrial action, scheduled flights to the Middle East, including those from Bahrain and Dubai, were canceled as a result of strike action by BA cabin crew.(Getty Images)

Gulf air passengers could be hit with further delays this autumn as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic staff meet on Tuesday in London with their respective unions to discuss possible industrial action.

British Airways cabin crew, which has already implemented 22 days of industrial action this year, are to meet with the Unite trade union at the Kempton Park racecourse, near Heathrow airport, to consider a new round of industrial action, according to the UK-based Travel Trade Gazette.

“We continue to be in contact with Unite. We have received no notification of any ballot for industrial action. Unite's crew branch BASSA has been talking about a ballot for the last three months. It does not have the authority to call a ballot,” a BA spokesperson said in an emailed statement today.

Virgin Atlantic is also facing the possibility of the first strike in its 26-year history as its pilots are today due to meet with the Balpa union to discuss possible industrial action, the report added. The dispute between Virgin’s 750 pilots and management is over the minimum number of rostered days off pilots are allowed to take.

In an interview to be published this month in CEO Middle East magazine, BA CEO Willie Walsh said the carrier had “no intention of conceding ground to the trade union because we have demonstrated that this is a business, indeed this is an industry, that needs to significantly improve its financial performance if we are to have a viable business and a viable industry for the future.”

During previous industrial action, scheduled flights to the Middle East, including those from Bahrain and Dubai, were canceled as a result of strike action by BA cabin crew.

However, Walsh said he has “developed a contingence plan in the event of any industrial action and we are confident that if it does happen, and I hope it will not, we will be able to operate 100 percent of our long haul flying programme.”

Rival Virgin Atlantic has been flying to Dubai since 2006 and currently operates a daily scheduled route between the emirate and London Heathrow.

TTG also reports that Air France has confirmed that no long-haul flights will be cancelled as a result of industrial action by French air traffic controllers, which is due to start today and expected to continue until Wednesday.

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