British Airways passengers turning up to Gatwick on Saturday for their 8:20am flight to Edinburgh are in for a slight surprise.
The aircraft waiting for them is scheduled to be one of three that BA has leased from its no-frills Irish rival, Ryanair, to help it cope with the impact of Saturday’s strike. Ryanair flight attendants, who must famously charge for everything from a cup of coffee to a sandwich, will also notice a change to their normal routine: they will have to serve food and drink free of charge.
“It will be BA service and BA catering,” said BA, adding that Ryanair cabin crew had been tutored in what this entailed earlier this week.
“We’ve spoken to each of the crews flying on our behalf and they know what kind of customers we have,” the airline said.
Ryanair, which has long poked fun at its older flag carrier rival, did not miss an opportunity to take advantage of the situation.
“Never mind the coffee – being on time will be a new experience for these passengers,” said Stephen McNamara, a Ryanair spokesman.
Because it has had nearly three months in which to prepare for Saturday’s disruption, BA has had time to charter aircraft from 11 airlines around Europe to keep passengers flying, ranging from Ryanair and Portugal’s EuroAtlantic Airways to Air Finland and the UK VIP charter group, Titan Airways.
Aircraft from Ryanair will also be used on routes from Gatwick to Glasgow and Manchester.