Decision Comes As Union Authorizes Pilots Strike
The heated standoff between pilots
and management at British Airways approached the tipping point this
week, as pilots overwhelming approved a motion to strike the
carrier... but in the 11th hour, pilots backed down, and agreed to
As ANN reported, at the heart
of the dispute is the airline's announcement of a new subsidiary
dubbed "OpenSkies," which will take full advantage of an impending
change in legislation affecting flights between the United States
and Europe. The airline is due to launch luxury service in
The British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) alleges the
airline plans to "massively outsource" flying duties on OpenSkies
to pilots with less training, for lower pay. With those pilots in
hand, the union says British Airways will then pressure its
mainline workforce to accept lower wages, as well -- an accusation
the airline says won't happen.
Union officials met Thursday with BA executives, reports USA
Today, and agreed to have their dispute mediated. The meeting came
one day after 86 percent of union members voted to strike over the
launch of Open Skies.
BALPA general secretary Jim McAuslan said in a joint statement
with BA management the strike vote shows how serious pilots are
about striking... but that they are also willing to negotiate, for
the sake of the traveling public.
"We have no quarrel with the traveling public and have always
maintained that these issues could be resolved through negotiation
rather than confrontation," McAuslan said.
British Airways CEO Willie Walsh echoed that sentiment, stating
he's "confident that a settlement can be achieved through
conciliation" without disrupting the airline's schedule.
An average British Airways pilot makes about $117,000 a year,
said BALPA spokesman Keith Bill. OpenSkies' pilots will earn about