It was the sight tens of thousands of stranded passengers had been longing for – British Airways planes began taking off from London Heathrow last night as a hugely disruptive wildcat strike came to an end. But the headache is far from over, either for would-be travellers or for BA. Some are putting the immediate cost of the walkout by baggage handlers at around 16 million euros a day.
But analysts warn the airline still be paying long after it has finally got an estimated 73,000 passengers to their destination. That price will be measured in customer confidence and market perception of BA where relations with staff have been strained since post 9/11 downsizing. Around 30 flights took weary travellers out of Britian’s busiest airport overnight.
But it is expected to be several days before a normal schedule is restored. A number of other carriers including Quantas, Finnair and Sri Lanka airlines, have also been affected. Around 1,000 BA staff walked out on Thursday in support of workers sacked by a catering supplier. They ended their action when the arbitration body, ACAS, was called in to mediate in the Gate Gourmet dispute. The company fired 650 employees who went on strike over the use of seasonal workers.