Air traffic between Israel and Britain is being gummed up by a four-day strike declared yesterday by the British Airways cabin crew. So far only one flight from Israel has been canceled - an afternoon departure yesterday from Ben-Gurion International Airport to the United Kingdom. But more disruptions to the schedule will likely be seen before the strike being held by 12,000 BA personnel ends Tuesday.
The walkout, the second this month, will cost the airline millions of pounds in lost revenue ahead of the busy travel period of Easter and Passover. British Airways said its contingency plans would mean that 75% of its customers would still be able to fly despite the strike.
The manager of another European carrier's operations at Ben-Gurion Airport told TheMarker yesterday that BA transferred passengers from Israel to other airlines flying out of the Tel Aviv airport yesterday, and which had connecting flights to the travelers' destinations.
Passengers on the route between London and Ben-Gurion have the following options: forgo flying altogether and get their money back, postpone their flights, or transfer to another airline.
BA said that a significant number of staffers did show up for work, enabling the company to soldier on. It added that 70% of its long-haul lines out of Heathrow took off yesterday as usual.
The cabin crew action at BA - over pay and staff cuts - is embarrassing for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown as the union in question is Unite, which is the largest financial backer of his Labour Party. Ministers yesterday called for a resumption of talks to bring an end to the strike.
"We have been very clear that we don't think the strike is justified and we've urged both sets of parties to get around the negotiating table," Ed Miliband, energy and climate change secretary, said.
Unite, which represents about 90% of BA's cabin crew, claims support for the strike had been very strong.
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