Agents stop selling BA due to strikes

Walkout by cabin crew leads to cancelled flights

BA cabin crew staged a three-day walkout after talks with the airline over pay broke down.
BA cabin crew staged a three-day walkout after talks with the airline over pay broke down.

Walkout by cabin crew leads to cancelled flights to Dubai, Doha and Bahrain.

Local travel agents said they had stopped recommending British Airways to their clients, following the commencement of strike action by BA cabin crew.

More than half a million British Airways passengers, including those travelling on flights from London to Dubai, Bahrain and Doha, had their travel plans disrupted when BA cabin crew staged a three-day walkout from 20th March.

The Unite trade union called for a series of strikes by up to 12,000 flight attendants, with another four-day stoppage planned from 27th March and further strike action to take place after 14th April if a deal on pay and working conditions still has not been reached.

Agents said the uncertainty caused by the industrial action had forced them to recommend alternative airlines to their customers. Mark Reed, general manager, Arabian Pacific Travel & Tourism LLC told Arabian Travel News: “Arabian Pacific made a commercial decision several weeks ago to stop selling BA from our flight options as we felt with the ongoing threat of strike action our clients would be best advised to book alternative options.”

“If the client is insistent on booking BA we would take it on a case by case basis and make them fully aware of the process and time period for refunds if cancellation was required.”

Reed added that the strikes had ‘tarnished’ the image of British Airways and would lead to a major loss of business for the airline.

“The strikes mean that people can’t plan properly and can’t assume if flying BA they can get from A to B on their required dates and times without any disruption. It is difficult as even loyal BA followers probably support the airline and not the union.

“The tarnished image and the perception of the customer not coming first again will take a long time to repair, if ever. BA will struggle to get passengers back who switch to other airlines; even if they offer very aggressive prices once they settle their differences. The problem is it is their front end and BA Executive club customers who will really feel let down and whom the airline should want to keep and not the price conscious shoppers who will not show airline loyalty anyway.”

Adeel Ahmed, supervisor OutBound Dept, Belhasa Tourism & Travel agreed that the strikes would do major damage to business for BA: “British Airways is one of the most prestigious airlines, but if [cabin crew] go on strike they will definitely lose quite a lot of business, and as you know the recession is still not over yet.”

A spokesperson for BA confirmed that the strikes had affected flights going to the Middle East.

“We have cancelled two flights on the London-Dubai route on March 21 and March 22. There has been no impact on Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi or Muscat. Two flights on the London-Bahrain-Doha route have also been cancelled.”

Passengers affected by the strikes have been told they can claim a full refund. “We have proactively contacted passengers whose flights have been affected by the strikes in order to rebook, reroute or refund their flights,” said the spokesperson.

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