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British Airways Strike Continues, Costing Millions

British Airways’ cabin crew strike has entered its 20th day, and as the U.K. Press Association (UKPA) reports, the two sides appear no closer to an agreement than before the labor action commenced. The strike is set to end Wednesday, but the union, Unite, has threatened another strike ballot if no resolution can be reached.

For British Airways, the strike has been rough, but not as bad as it could have been. More people have shown up for work than expected, allowing the airline to schedule more flights. According to the UKPA, the airline has raised its operations at Heathrow to roughly 80 percent of all flights, up from initial estimates of around 60 to 70 percent. Still, the strike has cost the airline over $200 million, and cut traffic by over 14 percent.

So what’s next? The UKPA writes, “Talks between Unite’s joint leader Tony Woodley and BA’s chief executive Willie Walsh under conciliation service Acas ended without agreement, with little sign of progress. An agreement in principle has been struck over cost-cutting, the original cause of the dispute, but the removal of travel concessions from strikers is now blocking a deal.”

Honestly, the longer this dispute goes on, the more entrenched each side seems to become. The travel concessions mentioned above refer to perks British Airways revoked from crewmembers that participated in the first strike. Unite claims these are not perks, but rather standard components of crewmembers’ compensation, and argues it would cost nothing for British Airways to reinstate them. British Airways seems unwilling to backtrack on a decision aimed at penalizing employees—fairly, in its view—for going on strike.

I hope I’m wrong, but I sense this conflict is far from over.

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