British Airways has lost in its court bid to stop a pilot strike that could cause carnage as the busy summer travel season begins.
The case had already been dismissed at the High Court last week but on Wednesday BA lost at the Court of Appeal.
Pilots have rejected a 11.5 per cent pay increase over three years and argued they deserve more because of BA’s “massive profits” resulting from its staff’s hard work.
BA pilots belonging to the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) voted overwhelming for strike action earlier this month, with 93 per cent voting in favour in a 90 per cent turnout.
The union represents around 85 per cent of BA pilots, meaning seven out of 10 of the airline’s pilots have agreed to strike.
BALPA General-Secretary Brian Strutton urged BA to “wake up to reality” and show some compromise. He did, however, say negotiations would recommence in the coming hours.
“BA’s attempt to defeat the democratic view of their pilots in court, rather than deal with us across the negotiating table, has sadly wasted huge amounts of time and money that could have been put into finding a peaceful resolution. Now the window for negotiation and compromise is closing fast,” Mr Strutton added.
BA said in a statement that its pay increase was fair and that it was "disappointed that the pilots' union, BALPA, has chosen to threaten the holidays of thousands of our customers this summer with unprecedented strike action."
The airline added that it would “continue to pursue every avenue to find a solution to avoid industrial action and protect our customers' travel plans".
BALPA has to give 14 days’ notice to call a strike, meaning the industrial action could take place in mid to late August, one of the busiest periods for air travel.