British Airways strike ends, but flight delays persist
LONDON (AP) _ Flight attendants ended their three-day strike at British Airways early today, but the carrier warned passengers to expect disruptions for several more days.
The airline could also face new turbulence as it tries to make peace with the striking union. The two sides did not talk during the walkout and no new discussions in the pay dispute were scheduled.
As British Airways worked to rebuild its crippled schedule, it said business would be hit worst at its main hub, London’s Heathrow Airport.
British Airways said it would cancel 25 percent of its long-haul intercontinental flights scheduled to leave Heathrow today, and half of its short-haul domestic and European flights.
British Airways could not specify when it will be fully operational, but managers are hoping for some time early in the week.
``More reasonably it’s probably midweek,″ spokesman Iain Burns said today, adding that the schedule will become more complete every day.
The airline’s biggest flight attendants union walked off the job in a pay dispute, but when the strike ended all the workers weren’t instantly back.
Many had phoned in sick, which let them support the walkout while avoiding any penalties faced by anyone officially on strike.
It seemed unlikely that the 1,900 flight attendants who called in sick during the walkout will all get well at once _ and the depleted roster of available workers will continue to hamper operations.
As the strike wound down, British Airways chief executive Bob Ayling offered new talks with the Transport and General Workers Union, which is negotiating for the 8,500 members of the British Airline Stewards and Stewardesses Association.
Ayling, adopting a more conciliatory tone than the airline had previously taken, said Friday he was willing to meet with union leaders and discuss any ideas they might have for achieving the $70 million in annual savings sought by management.
British Airways offered more basic pay but insisted on changes in work rules that the union says would leave employees worse off. A breakaway union, Cabin Crew 89, accepted the deal and its 3,500 members crossed picket lines.
Leaders of the striking union said they were coming up with their own proposals on cost savings.
But British Airways said early today it had received no response from the union, so it was unclear when the two sides might meet.
Separately, the airline is trying to resolve a dispute with ground workers who have voted against the company’s plans to sell off its remaining in-flight catering operations at Heathrow.