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BA wet-leases Qatar planes to bust cabin crew strike

July 5, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

British Airways has leased nine planes, fully crewed, from Qatar Airways to keep its services running during a cabin crew strike.

BA said it planned to operate “99.5%” of its schedule during the 16-day cabin crew strike, which saw hundreds of Heathrow-based staff walk out at the weekend over a long-running pay dispute.

BA said that Qatar Airways, a oneworld alliance partner, would operate “a small number of short-haul flights on our behalf”. As a wet-lease is involved, the planes will come with full crew.

State-owned Qatar Airways is the biggest single shareholder in IAG, the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling.  The Qatar airline raised its stake in IAG last year to 20.01% from 15.67%. Qatar Airways also announced recently it is buying into American Airlines.

BA’s current strike involves BA staff hired since 2010, who now earn less than their predecessors.

Union Unite, the biggest union in Britain and Ireland, is outraged over BA’s stance.

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: “Vindictive threats from British Airways amount to corporate bullying from an airline more interested in punishing workers on poverty pay than addressing why cabin crew have been striking.

“Unite believes it is tantamount to a blacklisting operation and that it is unlawful. We will fight both industrially and legally to defend our members’ fundamental human right to stand up to bullying and for decent pay.

“That British Airways is seeking to lease aircraft from an airline found to have breached international standards on labour and human rights, is doubly shameful.

“For an airline, which was once proud to call itself the ‘world’s favourite’, to behave in such a way and treat its staff with such contempt shows how far British Airways has fallen from grace.

“Customers will take a dim view and a great British brand risks being further tarnished. We call on British Airways to drop the threats and drop the sanctions and resolve this long-running dispute.”

Since 2010, all British Airways new cabin crew employees have to join what is called ‘mixed fleet’, where basic pay starts at GBP 12,192 (AUD 20,744) plus GBP 3 (AUD 5.10) an hour flying pay. Unite alleges the mixed fleet rules contradict earlier promises by BA. The union estimates that on average ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew earn GBP 16,000 (AUD 27,212) a year. including allowances.

Written by Peter Needham

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