British Airways crew vote for Christmas, New Year strike

British Airways cabin crew have backed a 12-day strike over the busy holiday season in protest over pay and job cuts. Likely to affect thousands of passengers, the strike comes as a major blow for the loss-making airline.


AFP - British Airways cabin crew have voted in favour of strike action in protest over pay and are set to walk out for 12 days over the busy Christmas and New Year holiday season, union bosses said Monday.

"After long discussions... we are planning to withdraw our labour for a period of 12 days starting 22nd December," Britain's biggest trade union Unite said in a statement after staff voted 9-1 in favour of striking.

The announcement is a major blow for the loss-making airline and also thousands of BA passengers that are planning to fly worldwide with the British airline over the festive period.

"We do not take the decision to strike lightly, especially during the financial strife that the company finds itself in," Unite said in its statement.

A total of 10,288 cabin crew voted with 92.49 percent in favour of strike action.

Ahead of the vote result, BA chief executive Willie Walsh admitted he was preparing himself for "bad news".

Writing in the Daily Mail newspaper, he said: "This is a critical day for the future of British Airways, adding: "We face... misery and uncertainty inflicted on hundreds of thousands of families."

Also on Monday, BA revealed that its pension deficit had ballooned to 3.7 billion pounds (4.1 billion euros, 6.0 billion dollars), a 76-percent increase compared to the level in 2006, causing the airline to seek a "recovery plan."

The huge shortfall meanwhile risks scuppering BA's proposed merger with Spanish airline Iberia, which has the right to walk away from a recently-announced planned tie-up should BA fail to resolve the problem.


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