BA leasing over 20 aircraft to counter strike

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British Airways expects to lease up to 22 aircraft from eight airlines in order to maintain services during a planned cabin crew strike this month.

It will use the aircraft to supplement its short-haul schedule from London Heathrow, and allow it to operate, overall, about 30% of its short-haul schedule over the initial strike period.

BA expects to carry 60% of booked passengers during the three-day strike from 20-22 March, adding that a number of other customers will be offered alternative BA flights or services on other carriers.

Over 60% of BA's long-haul flights from London Heathrow will operate over the period. BA says it has reached agreements with 40 other airlines allowing customers to rebook free of charge if their flights are cancelled.

"Due to the numbers of cabin crew who have called in to offer their services...the schedule will be slightly larger than we had originally anticipated," says BA chief Willie Walsh.

BA has yet to clarify the schedule for the subsequent four-day strike planned for 27-30 March.