British Airways (BA) has struck a deal with Qatar Airways to acquire up to nine Airbus narrowbody aircraft to cover its operations during planned strike action. The aircraft, including both A320s and A321s, are due to be wet-leased from July 1 and will initially fly for the London/Heathrow-based carrier for two weeks, though paperwork submitted by BA to the CAA said the arrangement would also cover “additional periods, yet to be defined, for a maximum of two months.”
The application to wet-lease non-European registered aircraft was made “on the grounds that the lease is justified on the basis of exceptional needs… to enable British Airways to continue passenger operations in light of planned operational disruption by its Mixed Fleet cabin crew.”
The decision comes in the face of an unprecedented 16-day – the latest in a long-running pay dispute – by the carrier’s Mixed Fleet staff, account for around 35% of its 15,000 cabin crew.
The Unite union, which is behind the industrial action, has urged the CAA to block the application, warning that “the lease could be in breach of aviation law, if British Airways was unable to demonstrate that an equivalent level of safety standards would be applied to the aircraft.”
The CAA has yet to formally respond to the request, but BA has, however, already cancelled a host of long-haul services. It added its short-haul operations will be largely unaffected.