heathrow © Bojan Bokic _40237489
© Bojan Bokic

Heathrow is facing a week of misery with pilot strikes, environmental protests and news that its head of cargo will be departing next month.  

British Airways’ pilots confirmed they would strike on Monday and Tuesday, after a last-ditch effort to restart talks with union representatives was rejected by the carrier.  

General secretary of the BA Pilots Association (Balpa) Brian Strutton said: “Our members’ resolve is very strong, and they remain very angry with BA. 

“But they also want to leave no stone unturned in trying to find a resolution… avoiding strike action and agreeing a deal with their pilots surely must be BA’s desired outcome. 

Strike action was called in response to a new pay offer from BA, which 93% of union members said was “too low”.  

A new proposal was put forward to the carrier’s chief executive, Alex Cruz, but with no word received, the union said the strike action was poised to go ahead.  

“[We will] call off proposed strikes set for 9-10 September if British Airways agrees to come back to the negotiating table,” said Balpa.  

The Loadstar was unable to ascertain as yet the full extent of the strike’s potential impact on cargo, but some disruption seems likely.  

And the week is only set to get worse for the airport, with environmental group Heathrow Pause confirming it will operate drones within the gateway’s no-fly zone on Friday.  

The group said: “[We’re doing this] to highlight the incompatibility of Heathrow’s expansion with government’s own legally binding commitment to reduce GHGs to net zero by 2050.  

“This was made in light of parliament’s declaration of an environment and climate emergency.” 

Four members of the group will begin running drones at regular intervals from 3am on 13 September within the no-fly zone, although not along aircraft flightpaths.  

Those participating are aware it will likely lead to arrest and potential imprisonment, with one, Valerie Milner-Brown, saying there was no other option.  

“I don’t want to break the law, I don’t want to go to prison; but right now we, as a species, are walking off the edge of a cliff.  Fires are ravaging the Amazon, our planet’s lungs are quite literally on fire, hundreds of species are going extinct and the Arctic is melting faster than scientists’ worst predictions. 

“All of this means that we have to cut emissions right now or face widespread catastrophe on an increasingly uninhabitable planet.”  

In particular, the group is incensed by plans for a third runway at Heathrow, which it said would add 7.3m tonnes of CO2 emissions to its existing 18m-tonne annual emissions.  

Meanwhile, head of cargo Nick Platts has announced he will be stepping down from his role on 9 October. He told The Loadstar his cargo programme “is well advanced, and I’ve done all I can to build  advocacy across the business and wider community, so it’s time for me to move on”.  

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