The High Court has rejected an application by British Airways to seek an injunction against pilots’ union Balpa to stop strike action.
The airline said it was “disappointed” by the decision announced yesterday and would be taking the case to the Court of Appeal.
The court heard that the impact of the strike would result in “very grave disruption” costing the carrier up to £40 million a day with up to 145,000 passengers a day possibly affected.
BA pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action this summer on a 90% turnout.
Pilots have rejected a pay rise worth 11.5% over three years, described by the airline as “fair and generous”.
Strike dates have not been confirmed by Balpa although a likely start date of August 7 may be delayed while BA appeals against the court’s decision.
In a statement, BA said: “We are very disappointed with today’s decision. We will continue to pursue every avenue to protect the holidays of thousands of our customers this summer.
“Our proposed pay offer of 11.5% over three years is fair, and by contrast to Balpa, the Unite and GMB trade unions, which represent nearly 90% of all British Airways colleagues, have already recommended the same pay offer to their members.
“We remain open to working with Balpa to reach agreement, which we have been doing since December, and we urge Balpa to return to talks as soon as possible.”
Balpa welcomed the decision but said reconciliation talks would be delayed as a result.
General Secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “While we’re pleased with the judge’s decision, we’re frustrated that time has been wasted. BA could have spent this time coming back to the negotiating table instead of trying – and failing – to tie us up in legal knots.
“This delay will now continue with BA seeking to appeal against the Hight Court’s decision.
“As a result it’s now likely the talks scheduled with ACAS on Friday will have to be postponed.
“We ask that BA thinks hard about why 93% of our members feel so strongly about taking strike action. The company itself has admitted that even one day of strike action would cost more than what our pilots are asking for, so the ball really is in their court here, to look after their pilots and ensure the hardworking public get to continue their holidays as planned.
“Although legally clear to do so, we have still not set any strike dates to give BA one last chance to commit to negotiating on pilots pay and rewards with us at ACAS later this week.”
Adam French, consumer rights expert at consumer group Which?, said: “As the threat of potential disruption over the busy summer period looms ever larger, it is more important than ever for BA make sure they have an adequate contingency plan in place, including sufficient staff and capacity to minimise the impact on passengers.
“If a strike by airline staff causes severe delays or cancellation, passengers may be entitled to substantial compensation payouts, as well as assistance and a refund or rerouting, depending on circumstances.”
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