The unfortunate strike embarked on by British Airways pilots have been described in the media as “the biggest shut-down in history.”
The action is affecting flights across the globe and is expected to cost British Airways around £100 million in revenue loss and additional costs.
More than 200,000 passengers have been affected so far as hundreds of flights were grounded during the first day of the strike planned by the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) to last through Tuesday, September 10, then to resume on September 27.
British Airways operates more than 850 flights a day and the pilots’ strike over pay and work benefits is the first of its kind in the company.
Customers have been offered refunds or the option to re-book for another date or on an alternate airline.
British Airways will Tuesday [today] be forced to ground another 800 flights as a damaging walkout by its pilots enters the second day, with Chief Executive, Alex Cruz, admitting for the first time that the unprecedented strike action would “punish” its brand.
Meanwhile, two of the airline’s aircraft that landed in Lagos and Abuja on Sunday evening and early Monday morning respectively are parked at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
A top official of the airline, who spoke to our correspondent, confirmed that its two airplanes in Abuja and Lagos were on ground in the two cities.
At the counters of the airline at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, it was obvious that the airline would not operate as workers were seen informing travellers of the strike.
The airline had earlier communicated to passengers through text messages, twitter and other mode of the strike and urged them not to go to the airport.
The two aircraft, a B737-400 that weighs 386 tonnes in Lagos and A330 that weighs 230 tonnes parked in Abuja because of the strike, may incur several millions of naira in parking as the aircraft would be flown out tomorrow (Wednesday) when the strike action is expected to be suspended.
Although New Telegraph could not get the cost of hourly parking of aircraft by airlines, a top official who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, however, said parking charges for less than six hours for a B747-400, which BA operates to Lagos, goes for as high as N260, 000 while parking of A330 costs about N200, 000.
The carrier could be indebted to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to the tune of N7 million for the three days of parking on the tarmac in line with international regulations.
Parking of aircraft costs so much. Some other countries charge hourly for parking of aircraft on the tarmac. In some other climes, charges are done based on the agreement airlines have with airport authorities, which determines what they pay for both landing and parking.
Airlines try to avoid these huge costs by doing a turn-around or carry extra crew along with the flight to fly the aircraft back.
The travel chaos comes after pilots rejected a pay increase of 11.5 per cents offered by British Airways.
The airline had appealed in a statement, saying “we understand the frustration and disruption BALPA’s strike action has caused our customers. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.”
The union argues that “the pilots remain very angry with BA” because the company has increased its profits — more than $3 billion annually, according to the International Airlines Group – on the backs of its pilots, with pay cuts and long hours.
“British Airways needs to wake up and realize its pilots are determined to be heard,” said Brian Strutton, BAPA’s General Secretary, who calculates that the strike will cost the company £40 million a day but could be settled for £5 million.
“The pilots have previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times.”
“Shares in AIG, which owns the UK airline, dropped around three per cent on Monday morning as BA grounded almost all its 1,700 flights, hitting 195,000 customers,” the Financial Times reported.
“The fall wiped off more than £200 million from its market capitalization as investors worried about the impact of the walkouts, with one top 10 shareholders admitting ‘you do get concerned about the situation,” it added.