British Airways pilots commenced a two-day strike on Monday, leaving nearly 1,600 flights grounded including scheduled flights to Israel.The majority of British Airways’ 4,300 pilots based at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports are participating in the strike, which follows a work dispute over increased salaries between pilots’ union BALPA and British Airways management.Ahead of the expected strike, British Airways canceled “thousands” of flights throughout booking websites and other travel platforms. Affected passengers have been urged not to travel to airports. British Airways operates three daily flights to Tel Aviv from London Heathrow Airport. Passengers who booked flights on the days of the strike were notified by email that their flights were canceled.If the strike goes ahead, British Airways management has threatened to suspend discounted family travel packages for up to three years.All British Airways employees are eligible for benefits including 90% discounts on flights that have free space or upgrades to business class – all of which are based on seniority and status of the pilots and/or employees.“The gap between BA’s position and BALPA’s position is about £5m,” said BALPA, the registered trade union established to represent UK pilots. “Our proposal remains on the table should BA wish to reach agreement prior to strike action.” British Airways responded by saying that “it is completely unacceptable that BALPA is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action. We are extremely sorry that after many months of negotiations, based on a very fair offer, BALPA has decided on this reckless course of action.”A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that British Airways and its pilots should sort out a dispute over pay and avoid the strike actions scheduled for early next week.“Our view is that nobody should have their travel plans disrupted or their holidays ruined, and the unions and BA need to get around the table and sort this out,” Johnson’s spokeswoman said. “The public would expect nothing less.”Eytan Halon and Reuters contributed to this story.