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British Airways Pilots Strike; Most Flights Grounded

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British Airways was forced to cancel almost all its flights scheduled for Monday and Tuesday after its pilots went on a 48-hour strike. This is the first ever strike by pilots in the airline's history.

The strike was called by the British Airline Pilots Association or BALPA over a long-running dispute over pay and benefits.

The pilots have rejected British Airway's proposed deal of a 11.5 percent salary increase over three years, and have demanded a greater share of the airline's profit. The airline, however, said the raise is well above the UK's current rate of inflation, and has been accepted by the members of the Unite and GMB trade unions.

The BALPA said that pilots walked out after earlier negotiations failed and due to the airline's subsequent refusal to consider alternative proposals or get back together for further constructive talks.

"Pilots, who took pay cuts in the years following the financial crisis to help shore up the company, say BA's fat cat managers have failed time and again to listen to their staff and seem determined force pilots to take the strike action," the BALPA said in a statement.

The union noted that British Airways is making a profit of about 2 billion pounds, while the cost of BALPA's latest proposal is less than 5 million pounds more than the airline's previous offer. One day of strike action will cost British Airways around 40 million pounds.

These unions represent nearly 90 per cent of all British Airways staff, including engineers, cabin crew and ground staff.

The airline said that passengers due to fly on September 9 and 10 are unlikely to be able to travel as planned. It is offering all affected customers the option of a full refund or the option to re-book to another date or another airline.

Meanwhile, BALPA has given notice of another strike to be held on September 27. British Airways said it will contact customers in the next few weeks to inform if their flight is likely to be impacted.

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