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At a time when Britain needs a strong and professional business community, with our exit from Europe round the corner, it’s hard to watch British Airways stumble mightily again. The strike threat may not be of their own making but the cancelling of flights; erroneous emails to passengers, and their inability to deal with thousands of passengers’ frustrations, make this just another problem to add to their list of costly events over the last couple of years - data breaches, IT problems, mass cancellation of flights, website issues, baggage disruption - and now, the looming strike chaos.

Of course, the complexity of BA’s operations is always going to exaggerate the effect on passengers, but the strikes are naturally planned to cause maximum disruption. The strikes will also cause flights on either side of the dates to have more cancellations than predicted, but it’s hard not to have sympathy with BA staff, who have to sort out all these problems. The division between pilots and their fellow workers will be strained at the very time the airline needs to work in harmony. Whilst costing BA millions of pounds, it is also costing passengers huge amounts as well, with disruption to personal plans which can have a devastating effect on their lives.

However, once again it highlights the fact that if the public booked with their local travel agent, we would have been able to provide - at the very least - a communication channel which would give them some comfort that someone was working on their behalf. BA and airlines in general can’t give that assurance. If a large percentage of the 40,000 passengers who have currently been affected by the first two days of strike action had used a travel agent, then a lot of aggravation and anxiety would have been avoided, and ironically BA would have benefited as well from less complaints.

Ken McLeod
SPAA President