Archive for May 17th, 2010

17
May
10

British Airways in court attempt to block strike

NEWS
British Airways in court attempt to block strike
Unite spokesman Steve Turner calls a High Court injunction against a planned strike by British Airways cabin crew an ‘affront to democracy’.

Monday, May 17, 2010

NEWS

••• British Airways has blocked a series of four five-day strikes by cabin crew after the High Court in London granted an injunction just hours before they were due to start.

The airline, facing mounting chaos because of the industrial dispute coupled with the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland, succeeded in its legal action after successfully claiming the cabin crew union’s strike ballot failed to follow rules.

Members of the Unite union had been due to walk out from Tuesday to May 22, with further strikes planned on May 24-28, May 30-June 3 and June 5-9.

The airline argued Unite had not properly complied with the requirement to send everyone eligible to vote details of the exact breakdown of the ballot result and therefore the strike action was unlawful.

The judge, Richard McCombe, expressed sympathy for the union and its members, but said: I am unable to say it is sufficiently clear that the union took the steps required by law at the time they were required.

Unite, which is locked in an increasingly bitter battle with BA over staffing and pay, strongly criticised the ruling and vowed to appeal.

This judgment is an absolute disgrace and will rank as a landmark attack on free trade unionism and the right to take industrial action, said the union’s leaders, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson.
British Airway said: We are delighted for our customers that Unite’s plans for extreme and unjustified strike action cannot go ahead.

The airline said it had already been forced to rearrange much of its schedule to accommodate the planned strike, but promised to restore a full flying program at its London Heathrow base by the weekend.

British Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, who held separate talks with both sides earlier on Monday, said the judgment was good news for passengers.

I want (both sides) to use this breathing space to resolve this dispute, both to avoid disruption to passengers and to safeguard the future of the airline, he said.

British Airway chief executive Willie Walsh spent three hours in talks on Monday with the Unite leaders and adjourned shortly after the court decision.

There will be further talks but events have been overtaken by the court’s decision, said Walsh.

A British Airway spokesman said: “We are delighted for our customers that Unite’s plans for extreme and unjustified strike action cannot go ahead. We are sorry the court judgment cannot undo the disruption already suffered by some customers who were due to travel during the early days of the union’s industrial action.

“As Unite knew, we had to announce last Thursday the rearrangement of our Heathrow schedule to give customers as much notice as possible about changes to their travel plans necessitated by the strike call. Ash disruption permitting, we will aim to restore a full flying programme at Heathrow by the weekend. We will also offer a full programme at Gatwick and London City, as planned.”

Unite’s national officer Steve Turner said: “It’s an affront to democracy and our members and we will be fighting back tomorrow.”

It is the second time in the long-running dispute that BA has succeeded in halting a cabin crew strike through legal action.

The airline won a High Court battle in December to stop a 12-day walkout over the busy Christmas and New Year holidays, when a judge granted an injunction.

British Airway also argued on this occasion that Unite’s ballot of staff was invalid.

The airline’s cabin crew staged walkouts in March, which were marked by sharp disagreements between the union and British Airway over the impact of the industrial action.
» Check your flight information here: British Airways
• Source(s): Independent Television News (ITN) and British Airways PLC
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17
May
10

No-fly zone lifted from North West airports

NEWS
No-fly zone lifted from North West airports

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earth

••• Planes will be allowed to fly through volcanic ash under new measures announced today by the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority.

The announcement of a new Time Limited Zone (TLZ) was made after all UK airspace was reopened yesterday evening.

The CAA said the TLZ – introduced from midday today (local time) – would allow flights for a limited time at higher ash densities than are currently allowed.

To operate in the new zone, airlines need to present the CAA with a safety case that includes the agreement of their aircraft and engine manufacturers.

The CAA said this meant that in future some areas of UK airspace that would have previously had to close would be able to remain open.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “I’m pleased that the huge efforts we’re all making across aviation to keep flying safe while minimising the disruption from the volcano have resulted in further progress.”

The measures follow heavy criticism of the no-fly zones from airline industry chiefs.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said blanket bans on flying were “a gross over-reaction to a very minor risk”.

And Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson described the situation as “beyond a joke”.

The announcement came after the U.K.’s National Air Traffic Service confirmed that British airspace was to reopen from 02:00 pm EDT time on Monday until 08:00 pm EDT.

A no-fly zone would remain over parts of the North Sea, affecting some helicopter flights.

The majority of U.K. airports reopened today with only a few – including some in the Shetland Isles – still closed.

Heathrow and Gatwick were among the airports that had closed late on Sunday (local time) when the volcanic ash cloud moved south.
• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.
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17
May
10

Ash cloud restrictions lifted

NEWS
Ash cloud restrictions lifted

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earth

••• Three of Europe’s busiest airports reopened on Monday afternoon after a dense volcanic ash cloud from Iceland dissipated and a no-fly zone was lifted. Up to 1000 flights in Europe were affected by the closures.

Flights were landing and taking off from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, but all three warned travellers it would take time for airlines to clear the backlog of delayed flights and to contact their airlines before going to the airport.

Eurocontrol, the continent’s air traffic control agency, said 28,000 flights were expected on Monday in Europe, about 1000 less than normal, mainly due to the disruptions in Britain and the Netherlands.

Icelandic civil protection official Agust Gunnar Gylfason said the ash cloud was travelling to the north, forcing airports in Keflavik and Reykjavik to close. He said seismic activity at the volcano was unchanged.

All British, Scottish and Irish airspace was open at least until early on Tuesday, but airspace over the North Sea was still restricted, affecting some helicopter operations.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh – facing a fresh wave of strikes by cabin crews on Tuesday – called the latest airspace closures ‘a gross overreaction to a very minor risk’.

‘I am very concerned that we have decisions on opening and closing of airports based on a theoretical model,’ he said.

‘There was no evidence of ash in the skies over London today yet Heathrow was closed.’

Aviation officials have defended the decision to impose the no-fly zone, saying airline representatives and engine manufacturers last week had agreed to find a way to ensure planes could fly safely in the volcanic ash.

Britain’s transportation minister, Philip Hammond, said aircraft manufacturers were examining evidence to see ‘what inspection regimes they can put in place that would allow safe flying through a somewhat higher threshold of ash.

‘If we can do that, the likelihood of volcanic ash disrupting flights will obviously diminish,’ he said.

Germany sent up two test flights on Sunday to measure the ash cloud, but there was no word yet on the results of those tests. Still, Germany said on Monday the latest ash cloud should not affect its airports.

‘At this time, the concentration of ash above German air space is so low that there are no reductions in air traffic,’ German Air Traffic Controllers said.

Ash can clog jet engines. The April 14 eruption at Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano forced most countries in northern Europe to shut their airspace between April 15-20, grounding more than 100,000 flights and an estimated 10 million travellers worldwide. The shutdown cost airlines more than $2 billion.

Last week, the European air safety agency proposed drastically narrowing the continent’s no-fly zone because of volcanic ash to one similar to that used in the U.S. The proposal still must be approved.

Eurostar added four extra trains on Monday – an additional 3500 seats – between London and Paris to help travellers cope.

Eyjafjallajokul (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) erupted in April for the first time in nearly two centuries. During its last eruption, starting in 1821, its emissions rumbled on for two years.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online – Mila ehf – Lífæð samskipta
» Check your flight information here: American, Delta, United, Continental, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Iberia, TAP, Qantas, JAT
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), British Department of Transport (DfT), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and ITN
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