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British Airways tells nearly 200,000 travelers to stay home as pilots go on strike for first time ever


British Airways told nearly 200,000 travelers to stay home Monday as its pilots went on strike for the first time in the airline's history.

The flagship carrier in the UK said in a statement that it has no choice but to cancel “nearly 100%” of the flights scheduled for Monday and Tuesday because of the British Airline Pilots’ Association strike over pay.

“We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused our customers,” the airline said. “After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.”

The flights were canceled because “we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly,” BA said.

Approximately 195,000 travelers were impacted by the strike. The walkout was only expected to last two days, but another strike is scheduled for Sept. 27 if an agreement is not reached.

The airline says it has offered the pilots a pay raise of 11.5% over three years, but the union says its members deserve a bigger share of the profits. British Airways’ parent company IAG made a net profit of $3.2 billion last year, according to The Associated Press.

“They’ve previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times,” union leader Brian Strutton said. “Now BA is making billions of pounds (also dollars) of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits.”

British Airways operates up to 850 flights a day, with Heathrow Airport expected to be most impacted by the work stoppage.

The airline said it is "offering all affected customers full refunds or the option to re-book to another date of travel or alternative airline."

With News Wire Services