LONDON —British Airways pilots have begun a two-day strike in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.
Tens of thousands of passengers have been told not to go to airports, and BA says most have made alternative arrangements.
Both BA and the pilots’ union Balpa has indicated that they are willing to start new talks.
Nonetheless, the vast majority of BA flights taking off from the UK on Monday and Tuesday have been cancelled.
There was also a knock-on effect to flights on Sunday, because planes and pilots needed to be in position for prior and subsequent journeys.
Dozens of flights were cancelled and further unforeseen cancellations could happen on Wednesday.
BA said “we remain ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa”.
The airline added that it understood the “frustration and disruption” caused for customers, but added: “Unfortunately, with no detail from Balpa on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100% of our flights.”
Balpa’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “It is time to get back to the negotiating table and put together a serious offer that will end this dispute.”
It is the first time BA pilots have walked out and the action could cost the airline up to £40m a day.
Some 4,000 pilots will strike and almost all of the 1,600 flights that were due to fly will be grounded.