British Airways is offering travel agents the chance to win a trip to South Africa during the World Cup as a “thank you” for their help with passengers during the strikes by cabin crew and ash crisis.
Agents can win one of 20 places on two trips to South Africa next month, and have dinner with a former footballer who is championing England’s 2018 World Cup bid, simply by registering their name on www.batraveltrade.com. All the names will go into a draw in two weeks, with a host of other prizes on offer.
BA consumer sales manager Simon Brooks said: “The trade has been fantastic and we want to say a big thank you. They have looked after our passengers during the snow disruption, the strikes and the volcanic ash – re-booking them, finding other options – and we want them to know how grateful we are.”
Agents, tour operators and travel management companies helped tens of thousands of passengers each day during the strikes by cabin crew before Easter, and Brooks said: “We know how much work this put on the trade and want agents to know how much we appreciate it.”
The carrier is confident of operating at least as extensive a service as during the earlier strikes, despite the Unite union extending the action across 23 days up to June 9 during the busier summer season.
The union plans four periods of five-day strikes, with just a day between each to maximise disruption.
Brooks said: “We intend to mount a robust operation.” One reason is that BA has now trained volunteer strike-breakers to work on the Boeing 747s in its long-haul fleet. “We have a substantially larger group of people to call on and they have been able to practice on the 747s,” said Brooks. “We have an awful lot more volunteers.”
He insisted: “The trade should have no greater worries than last time. We learned so much from the first period [of strikes]. We aim to be as clear with our information as last time.”
BA will issue further information on long-haul services five days ahead of the next strike period and four days for short-haul.
In the meantime, the door remains open to the union to negotiate a settlement, said Brooks. “There is still time for us to talk.”