Airport authority monitoring BA flights after Heathrow strike vote
The impact to Bermuda of looming strikes at London’s Heathrow travel hub is being closely monitored, the head of the island’s airport authority has said.
British Airways flights face disruption this summer after Heathrow check-in and ground staff voted overwhelmingly to stage strikes as part of a long-running pay wrangle.
Lester Nelson, CEO of the Bermuda Airport Authority, said the organisation was in contact with the airline, and had not been notified of any disturbances to the Bermuda-Heathrow route.
Mr Nelson said: “The airport authority maintains regular contact with British Airways and we are closely monitoring their operational challenges.
“We have not been notified of any service disruptions on the LHR-BDA route at this time.
“We also continue to co-ordinate Bermuda’s air service matters with key stakeholders including the Ministry of Transport, Bermuda Tourism Authority and Skyport.”
After a ballot of some 700 union members, walkouts in favour of a wage claim were approved by BA Heathrow staff.
No time table has yet been given for industrial action, but it is likely to coincide with the start of English school summer holidays in mid-July.
It is not yet clear how severe the impact would be on long-haul flights, such as those to and from Bermuda.
Unions claim the action is needed due to BA using what they term “fire and rehire” measures which saw the pay of workers cut in the pandemic.
A spokesman for the GMB union said: “All our members are asking for — and these are primarily low-paid women — is for BA to reinstate the 10 per cent taken from them during the pandemic.”
BA is offering a 10 per cent one-off bonus for this year, but the union insists the pandemic cuts should be reinstated permanently.
The airline has defended its offer, stating that its revenues are down by some $5 billion.
British government ministers have insisted they will not get involved in the dispute as BA is a private company.
The move is the latest in what is being dubbed “the summer of discontent” in Britain, which this week saw the first national rail strike since Margaret Thatcher was prime minister in 1989, while teaching unions are also looking at industrial action.
The walkout possibility comes after Heathrow and a number of other European airports were plunged into chaotic scenes in recent months as lack of staff and surging travel numbers led to long delays on the ground and widespread cancelled flights.
Craig Cannonier, the Shadow Minister for Tourism, said he did not expect that industrial action would have any “alarming” impact on business travel between Bermuda and Heathrow.
“Business people may have to fly via New York to get to Bermuda if strikes occur. That may be aggravating, but it is an adjustment that can be done.
“I do not think any disruption will be particularly alarming for business,” he said.