British Airways pilots have voted strongly for strike action to back their opposition to the company’s plans for a new subsidiary, their union said Thursday.
The British Airline Pilots Association said 86 per cent of those who voted were in favour of striking. The pilots oppose British Airways’ plan for the subsidiary, called OpenSkies, because they believe staff at that unit would be offered lower pay and benefits.
British Airways said OpenSkies posed no threat to the pay and working conditions of pilots.
“We have offered to make these guarantees part of our industrial agreements with pilots,” the airline said in a statement.
The union has rejected the assurance, however.
“What BA pilots want is to have one pilot community for both the mainline and the OpenSkies subsidiary,” said General Secretary Jim McAuslan.
That would include “the same professional standards, equal opportunities for pilots to move from mainline to OpenSkies and from OpenSkies to mainline, fair promotion prospects and a safeguarding of BA mainline pilots’ pay and conditions,” he added.
The union, which represents about 3,000 BA pilots, said a strike against British Airways would be the first since 1980. It has set no deadline for taking action.
British Airways has said OpenSkies will begin service to New York from either Brussels or Paris using a single Boeing 757 in June. A second aircraft will start flying to the other European city later this year.
Most of the 82 seats on the aircraft would be dedicated to first-class and business-class travelers, with only 30 in the economy section.
The new airline takes its name from the Open Skies agreement between the US and the European Union, which allows airlines to fly from anywhere in the Europe Union to the United States and vice versa. (AP)
Union says British Airways pilots authorise strike in dispute over new unit