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The first-ever strike by British Airways pilots started at midnight on Sunday night, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and travel disruption for thousands of passengers.

Members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) have said they will walk out for 48 hours in a long-running dispute over pay, with a further strike set for 27 September if the row remains unresolved.

On Monday morning BA said on its website that it had “no option but to cancel nearly 100% (0f) our flights”.

“We understand the frustration and disruption BALPA’s strike action has caused you. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this,” the company’s website said.

Both BA and Balpa have indicated that they are willing to start new talks. Despite the slight thaw in previously tetchy relations, the vast majority of BA’s flights taking off from the UK on Monday and Tuesday have already been cancelled.

BA has told passengers that if they have a flight booked on Monday and Tuesday, it is likely they will not be able to travel as planned.

BA operates more than 800 flights a day, with most expected to be cancelled, affecting up to 145,000 passengers each day.

Customers have been offered refunds or the option to re-book to another date of travel or alternative airline. It is expected that the problems will continue after the strike, because planes and pilots will need to be in position for subsequent journeys.

Balpa’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “British Airways needs to wake up and realise its pilots are determined to be heard.

“They’ve previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times. Now BA is making billions of pounds of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits. Read more

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