British Airways has lost its bid to halt planned strike action by its pilots this summer in a dispute over pay.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday (31 July) threw out BA’s attempt to injunct pilots union Balpa’s strike ballot.
Some 93% of Balpa members voted in favour of strike action earlier this month (22 July) on a 90% turnout.
Last week, Balpa successfully defended its ballot in the High Court following BA’s application to annul the vote.
It says BA is failing to adequately reward pilots for their efforts after parent IAG posted full-year pre-tax profits of €2.8 billion, of which BA contributed just shy of £2 billion.
BA, meanwhile, says its latest pay offer, worth 11.5% over three years, is “fair” and has been accepted by other unions representing BA staff.
Balpa is yet to announce strike dates and will now resume talks with BA at government conciliation service Acas until the end of the week.
The union is required to give 14 days’ notice of any plans to strike so if Balpa and BA fail to come to an agreement at Acas, Balpa could conceivably call a strike on Friday (2 August) starting 17 August.
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “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.
“BA need to wake up to reality. Our ballot returned 93% in favour of strike action. There is a serious issue here and BA has so far refused to help us tackle it.
“On BA’s own figures submitted to the court, even a single day of strike action will cost far more than we believe it would take to settle this dispute.
“Balpa wants to resolve this matter through negotiation, and so we are not announcing strike dates. Instead, we have called on BA to hold further talks at Acas. They have agreed to meet at Acas today [Wednesday] and for the rest of this week for one last try to resolve this dispute by negotiation.
“We have spent four days in talks at Acas already, and BA refused to move their position one iota. But we hope they now recognise the seriousness of the situation and will work positively with us to find a way forward.”
A BA spokesperson said: “We are disappointed Balpa has chosen to threaten the holidays of thousands of our customers this summer with unprecedented strike action.
“We are very sorry for the disruption Balpa’s strike action will cause our customers. While no strike dates have yet been issued by Balpa, and they are required to give us 14 days’ notice of any intention to call strike action, we ask our customers to review their contact details by visiting ba.com, or by contacting their travel agent.
“We continue to pursue every avenue to find a solution to avoid industrial action and protect our customers’ travel plans.
“Our proposed pay deal of 11.5% over three years is fair, and by contrast to Balpa, has been accepted by the members of the Unite and GMB trade unions, which represent nearly 90% of all British Airways colleagues.”
Earlier this year, Balpa, Unite and the GMB unions lodged a joint pay claim after BA owner IAG announced record profits of some €3 billion.
Unite and the GMB unions have since recommended BA’s pay deal to members after considering strike action.