LONDON, England, Wednesday June 28, 2017 – Passengers planning on flying British Airways in the first two weeks of July have been assured that the airline will fly all customers to their destinations during the impending strike, as it has done in the past.
Britain’s flagship carrier’s mixed fleet cabin crew (those who work on both long and short-haul flights) are set to down tools for two weeks from July 1 over sanctions on union members involved in previous industrial action in a long-running pay dispute.
But according to a document dated June 21, the airline has taken steps to minimize the impact of the strike by applying to Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to use nine Qatar-registered Airbus A320 or A321 planes and their crew between July 1 and July 16.
A CAA document said that the application had been made on the grounds that the lease is justified “on the basis of exceptional needs … to enable British Airways to continue passenger operations in light of planned operational disruption by its mixed fleet cabin crew.”
The deal, referred to as “wet-leasing”, would mean that BA pays Qatar Airways to use its aircraft and crew for the two week period.
The arrangement could prove mutually beneficial, helping Qatar to use more of its planes after its operations were disrupted by a boycott from four Arab nations, forcing it to seek out other destinations to keep its planes and crew in service.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar on June 5 in the most severe diplomatic crisis in the region in years.
Close ties already exist between British Airways and Qatar Airways, moreover. Both are partners in the OneWorld alliance and code share on certain flights, while the Doha-based carrier owns a 20 percent stake in BA parent International Airlines Group.
Whether or not the arrangement with Qatar Airways materializes, British Airways says it remains committed to providing uninterrupted service to its passengers.
“Our priority is to fly all our customers to their destinations. We are looking at a range of options and are speaking with a number of airlines,” a spokeswoman for British Airways said.
“We will publish our contingency plans in the coming days for customers who have bookings on the days of threatened industrial action,” she added.