MUMBAI : The near-grounding of the British Airways (BA) due to the strike by its unionised pilots over pay issues, could have its cascading impact on the student community who fly to England for admissions around this time, warn the travel services industry.

The British carrier Monday said it has been forced to cancel almost all its flights on the first day of the two-day strike by the pilots.

British Airways currently operates 49 weekly flights from five cities in the country, with a double daily from Mumbai and New Delhi and a daily service from Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

In summer 2019, the airline added four additional flights from Mumbai to London, increasing the weekly total from 14 to 18 flights.

The airline said it is willing to talks with the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) which has resorted to the industrial action for the first time in decades.

The airline said it had informed passengers in advance of the strike.

"Just to share that the vast majority of flights will not operate today or tomorrow due to the strike action by BALPA," said a BA statement.

"We have contacted customers over two weeks ago, who have been affected by the action offering them alternative options, including rebooking to a different date, travel on a different airline or a full refund," the statement said.

"The strike may have a percolating impact on student community because of the September intake across British universities," said Indiver Rastogi of Thomas Cook India.

Rastogi said due to the advance intimation of the strike, his company has offered alternate options to its customers to minimise their inconvenience.

"We have been re-scheduling passengers onto BA flights on different dates. However, it is a definite inconvenience to passengers who have been impacted, particularly for those who had urgent business and could not postpone their travel," said Sharat Dhall of Yatra.com.

Fares have not been impacted now but we expect some spike on key routes where BA has a strong share, he added.

"The current average one way fare for a Delhi-London and Delhi-Manchester ticket is 33,207 and 43,900 respectively. But with the strike we expect last minute airfares to rise by 15-20 percent going forward," said Aloke Bajpai of ticketing firm Ixigo.

Another travel services provider SOTC also said the affected passengers have been rebooked on other airlines wherever possible, or have been offered alternate dates of travel, Daniel D'souza of SOTC said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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