BA targeted – by an airline it part owns

Flybe uses bigger rival's impending strike to entice travellers to switch

British Airways is facing an unprecedented campaign to poach its passengers – conducted by an airline which it part owns.

Europe's biggest regional airline, Flybe, has sent an email to thousands of frequent travellers headed "Beat the strike" and citing "the hassle and worry that British Airways might have to offer this December".

BA cabin crew are currently being balloted for strike action yet such provocative marketing is rare among mainstream airlines. While Ryanair is often happy to revel in its rivals' misfortunes, an unwritten understanding prevails among most carriers that they will not seek an advantage on matters such as safety and strike action.

Flybe, which was unavailable for comment yesterday, flies in the face of convention with a promise that "Flybe won't leave you stranded this Christmas ... Flybe will continue to operate over the Christmas period. Others may not."

The email goes on to say: "Make the right flight choice this December. If you are thinking of travelling over the Christmas period, no doubt you have already heard about the potential industrial action proposed by British Airways cabin crew which could leave thousands of their passengers from the South-east stranded as they try to fly from London to be closer to their family and friends over Christmas and New Year."

Almost 13,000 BA cabin crew belonging to Unite are voting on strike action. They are unhappy about a range of issues, notably new rosters unilaterally imposed by BA management on Heathrow cabin crew and plans to recruit new staff on inferior terms and conditions. The ballot result will be announced on 14 December. If, as is widely expected, there is a substantial majority in favour of a strike, the union is likely to announce strike dates at the same time. Any strike action would have to begin between 21 December and 11 January. Almost two million passengers are at risk of having their plans disrupted, even though past experience suggests any strike would last for only a couple of days, leaving the large majority of these travellers unaffected.

A BA spokesman said: "Holding a ballot does not mean that any industrial action will take place and any forecast of industrial action remains speculative. All of our flights are operating normally and it is very much business as usual."

Flybe is a privately owned airline but BA has a 15 per cent stake in the carrier. The two airlines also collaborate closely on "code-share" arrangements, in which BA sells trips with a BA flight number on Flybe services.

Paul Charles, director of communications for Virgin Atlantic, said: "I am sure there will be surprise in the BA boardroom that one of their own assets is actively encouraging customers to switch." He said Virgin had no plans to launch a similar campaign: "Passengers are naturally switching to other carriers – we don't need to waste our time and money on highlighting BA's strike issues."

BA maintains the ballot has had no impact on forward bookings, and a spokesman said: "We remain available to talk with the unions at any time."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

    £7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea