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Mon 24 May 2010 12:25 PM

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BA flights to the Gulf hit by cabin crew strike

UK carrier says flights to Dubai, Doha, Bahrain have already been cancelled.

BA flights to the Gulf hit by cabin crew strike
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British Airways' scheduled flights in the Gulf have already been impacted by the latest round of industrial action to hit the airline, Arabian Business has learnt.

Unite – BA cabin crew’s union – has planned a number of strikes covering the following days: May 24 to 28 inclusive, May 30 to June 3 inclusive and June 5 to 9 inclusive.

“Our operations around the world have got off to a good start this morning. At Heathrow, our aim is to fly as many customers as we can during the strike period and we will be operating more than 60 per cent of our long-haul programme,” a spokesperson told Arabian Business in a statement on Monday.

However, according to the BA website, scheduled flights on the London Heathrow-Bahrain-Doha and Dubai to London routes have already been cancelled over the next few days.

BA customers booked on any Gulf flights have been advised to refer to the BA.com website for updates on any cancelations.

“We will fly more than 60,000 booked customers around the world every day between May 24 and May 28, despite these five days being targeted for strikes by Unite," the BA statement said.

"Many thousands more will be able to use seats we have secured on more than 50 other airlines to reach their destination, if they still wish to travel or be rebooked onto an alternative BA flight departing within the next 355 days. Refunds are also available for customers whose flights have been cancelled,” it added.

Last week, the first strike period, due to occur between May 18 and 22, was called off as a result of a London High Court ruling. However, Unite appealed this decision and the later strikes are now scheduled to go ahead as planned.

Unite’s last round of industrial action in March is estimated to have cost Europe’s fourth largest airline as much as £75m ($113m).

On Sunday, BA’s CEO Willie Walsh told reporters that the carrier was haemorrhaging money and faced a £100m ($144.43m) strike bill.

“We are very clear that we are now in a fight for our very survival and time is running out,” Walsh added.

The industrial action is over proposed changes to pay and working conditions announced by BA management, which has said it needs to shave more than $90m off the airline’s annual expenditure.

BA made a pre-tax loss in the nine months to December 2009 of $511m, compared to a loss of $104m in the same period in 2008. The changes include a pay freeze in 2010, reducing the number of cabin crew on long haul flights from fifteen to fourteen and switching around 3,000 staff to part-time work.