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British Airways pilots abandon planned strike in 'responsible' step to encourage new pay deal talks

Jack Hardy
Around 195,000 passengers were disrupted by strikes earlier this month - AFP

British Airway pilots have declared they would take the “responsible” step of calling off a second strike - despite already bringing misery to thousands of passengers with a previous wave of action.

A strike was planned by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) for September 27, as part of a long-running battle to secure new talks with the airline over pay. 

However, union officials have now announced they will be abandoning the plans as a “gesture of goodwill” which they hope will persuade BA bosses to meet them for talks.

Balpa’s general secretary suggested not pushing ahead with the strike was the “responsible course”, but warned more action would follow if negotiations were not restarted. 

His words may ring hollow for those whose travel plans were plunged into chaos when more than 1,700 flights were grounded at the start of the month by two days of industrial action. 

Around 195,000 passengers were believed to have been affected by the walkout and BA had already begun cancelling hundreds of flights in anticipation of the September 27 strike. 

BA has offered a pay rise of 11.5% over three years to pilots, which it says would boost the pay of some captains to £200,000, but Balpa says its members want a bigger share of the company's profits.

Brian Sutton, Balpa’s general secretary, said: “Someone has to take the initiative to sort out this dispute and with no sign of that from BA the pilots have decided to take the responsible course. In a genuine attempt at establishing a time out for common sense to prevail, we have lifted the threat of the strike on the 27th September.

“BA passengers rightly expect BA and its pilots to resolve their issues without disruption and now is the time for cool heads and pragmatism to be brought to bear. I hope BA and its owner IAG show as much responsibility as the pilots.”

It is understood the union was not given any assurance that BA would resume talks if the strike was called off, but both sides have publicly expressed willingness to break the deadlock. 

A union source expressed scepticism in BA’s publicly stated position, saying they had not received any form of communication from the airline about resolving the dispute.

They added: “Nothing had moved and we felt like we had to be the ones to make a move here to get sensible negotiations going again.”

It comes after Downing Street was forced to wade into the row earlier this month, urging both parties to “sort this out” so passengers did not have their holidays ruined. 

A spokesman for BA said: “We have just received this news. We are considering the implications and we will give updates in due course.”