British Airways Strike Affects Israel Flights

British Airways cabin crew members launched a three-day strike yesterday, and it's already affecting the airline's London-Tel Aviv route.

A flight scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion International Airport this afternoon and then return to the English capital has been canceled, and the same fate may await two flights scheduled to ply the route tomorrow.

Yesterday's flight schedule was not affected by the labor dispute, and a flight scheduled for this morning is expected to take off and land on schedule.

The Unite union declared the 12,000-person strike after salary talks with BA management broke down.

British Airways manager in Israel Yael Katan said yesterday that passengers flying between London and Tel Aviv have been offered a number of options: They can change their travel dates, cash in their tickets for a full refund or fly with another carrier.

She said passengers leaving Israel via London on their way to other destinations have been transferred to other airlines. Katan said she hoped the strike would end within less than three days, so that BA's flight schedule could be maintained.

British Airways operates two flights a day, for a total of 14 flights a week, on the Tel Aviv-London route. According to the Israel Airport Authority, 34,100 passengers traveled with BA on this route in the first two months of 2010, an increase of more than 29% versus the parallel period last year.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the heart of the dispute between the airline and the union are plans for a two-year pay freeze and a cut to the number of crew members on long-haul flights.

British Airways had a pretax loss of $514 million for the nine months ending in December.