Employees of BAA ( formerly British Airlines Authority) are threatening to strike, a move which could spell disaster for Britain’s tourism industry. The six airports owned and operated by BAA cover several of the UK’s biggest travel and aviation regions, and could result in thousands of missed flights and cancelled appointments if closure is the final outcome.
BAA was privatized in the late 1980s as part of efforts by the Thatcher government to minimize state control of assets. The company operates six airports within the United Kingdom and many more overseas, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. The closure of the company’s UK assets is projected to cost the travel industry tens-of-millions of dollars in lost revenue.
It’s also threatening to ruin thousands of holidays, particularly as the strikes are planned to occur during the nation’s peak tourism season. Unite union officials are aiming to avoid a strike, instead opting to negotiate for a more competitive pay deal directly with airport authorities. BAA’s offer of a 1% annual pay rise was rejected by the union, who claim that the workers deserve more.
Should the strike go ahead, it will be the second major setback for Britain’s travel industry. Delays and cancelled flights from the Icelandic volcano eruption have cost the industry several hundred million dollars already, with some of Europe’s largest airlines still involved in efforts to repay and reimburse those affected by the disaster.
With several leading travel firms teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, another setback could spell the end of commercial travel bookings. Recent strikes by British Airways and a lack of disposable income have already hurt the travel industry, resulting in missed revenue targets and several major bankruptcy cases. Approximately 35% of the involved employees support moves to strike.