British Airways pilots are on the verge of striking. About 90% of the airline’s pilot’s union cast a ballot and more than 90% of those favored a strike. British Airways has wearhered multiple strikes over the past decade from cabin crew, and flown through those, but pilots can cripple an airline in a way flight attendants cannot. Replacement pilots, qualified to operate the airline’s aircraft, cannot simply be conjured up the way flight attendants can be.
BA is American Airlines’ closest partner. They coordinate schedules and share revenue across the Atlantic as part of an anti-trust immunized metal neutral joint venture. American sees British Airways hub London Heathrow as their hub too.
That’s going to all get ugly in a couple of weeks. In the meantime though the London airports themselves are facing an industrial action at the end of the week, and American has restricted employees from Heathrow travel July 26 and 27. In a message to employees, American says,
LHR non-rev and business travel restricted July 26-27
With the strong possibility of a strike by certain London Heathrow (LHR) airport personnel looming, we want to be sure our airport teams have the support they need to take care of our customers. That’s why non-rev and business travel (both on American and ZED/other airlines) departing from or connecting through LHR will be restricted July 26-27.
If LHR is your final destination, you are good to travel. While not restricted, we also encouage you to avoid non-rev travel through other European gateways as we will likely need to reaccommodate passengers through these cities, making for higher than normal loads.
Should the potential strike continue beyond these dates, we’ll provide additional guidance. THanks for your help setting up our airport teams for success as they navigate a potentially challenging time.
If American won’t let its employees take flights departing from Heathrow on those days, whether for business or personal (non-rev) travel, that’s a strong indication that you shouldn’t either. We’re starting to see airlines issuing travel waivers, United has one, so reconsider your plans accordingly.
Update: In case I was insufficiently clear it is shocking that American is banning their employees from flying out of Heathrow, but has not yet issued a waiver to allow customers to avoid doing so.