British Airways (BA) pilots began a two-day strike on Monday, grounding nearly all of its flights and disrupting thousands of passengers in a dispute over pay.
The airline, part of the International Airlines Group (IAG), canceled 1,700 flights to and from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Monday and Tuesday ahead of action by British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) members in BA’s first ever pilot strike.
“I am really sorry that the cynical actions of the pilots’ union have put us in his position,” BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz told BBC television.
“It is by all accounts an own goal; it’s going to punish customers, it’s going to punish our brand, it’s going to punish the rest of the colleagues.”
IAG shares were down more than 2% in early trading.
BA has offered its pilots an 11.5% pay rise over three years, which it said would take the pay of its highest earning captains from 167,000 pounds ($205,000), plus 16,000 pounds in allowances, to just over 200,000 pounds.
Its pilots on average earn around 90,000 pounds a year.