BA pilots unhappy at having to stay in four- rather than five-star hotels are planning to go on strike at the height of summer after rejecting £20,000 pay increases.
The 4,000 plane captains could walk out in mid-August after the Court of Appeal yesterday rejected BA's application for an injunction to prevent strike action.
Up to 145,000 passengers a day could be affected if there is no breakthrough in talks being held at Acas today and tomorrow, in a move which could cost the company £40m a day.
The British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) has rejected an above-inflation pay deal worth 11.5 per cent over three years, the Times reported, even though it has been accepted by unions representing other BA staff.
The pilots, who took a pay cut when the company faced financial difficulties in recent years, say they are looking for a larger share of the profits now the company is in better financial shape. BA made almost £2 billion last year.
Grounded: BA flights could be stuck on the tarmac if 4,0-00 pilots walk out later this month
BA captains are paid an average of £176,000, including a flying allowance, which means an 11.5 per cent increase would be worth more than £20,000 for senior pilots.
Some are paid more than £200,000 and the average for all pilots is believed to be just under £90,000.
One captain told The Times that there was huge support for the strike, saying that staff felt mistreated after agreeing to significant pay cuts during the recession several years ago.
He accused the airline of 'snipping away' at perks such as the quality of hotels during layovers. 'It used to be five-star, it's now four-star, some I would think might even struggle to achieve that,' he said.
'The problem with lower-standard hotels is they tend to be noisier and that becomes an issue when getting enough sleep to do your job.'
British Airways has lost a legal battle which would have prevented the strike from taking place
Teacher Sarah-Jane Campbell Smith, 34, is booked to jet from Manchester to New York for a trip of a lifetime honeymoon with fiance James Waterhouse, 36, but the couple fear the strike will play havoc with their plans.
They have paid £1,500 for the trip, due to take place on August 24 after their wedding later this month.
She told The Times: 'It’s more stressful than if it were just a holiday.
'It’s supposed to be such a special occasion with the excitement of getting up in the morning after the wedding to whizz off to a location neither of us have ever been to.
'We have £300 Broadway tickets paid for on the 25th and our hotel was part of the British Airways package, so we may lose that too.'
If the 4,000-strong walkout were to crash her post-wedding plans, restitution might be impossible.
BA might offer alternative dates, but she will have to be back at work for the start of the new term on September 2.
He added: 'We're working a lot harder than when I joined more than 25 years ago. We took a big pay cut a few years ago when the company was in financial trouble and . . . I think the feeling is when we made the big sacrifice when times are hard, we'd like to share in the profits when times are good.'
A spokeswoman for Balpa told MailOnline she could not confirm when strike action would take place, that the union must give two weeks' notice of any walk-out, and that talks with Acas were continuing.
The strike is by pilots based at Heathrow and Gatwick but it will affect flights from all British airports, including Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast City. Only BA Cityflyer flights from London City will be unaffected. Balpa is also balloting for industrial action on Ryanair, which could be staged at the end of the month.
BA applied to the High Court for an injunction to block the strike. It argued that Balpa’s ballots did not comply with trade union law. The case was thrown out last week and that decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal yesterday.
A British Airways spokeswoman told MailOnline: 'We are disappointed that the pilots' union, 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 could 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 per cent 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 per cent of all British Airways colleagues.'
At least someone's on holiday! £141k-a-year union boss who is plotting summer strike chaos basks in the Spanish sunshine - as thousands wait to hear if THEIR getaways will be hit by BA pilots' strike
Sitting by a glorious sandy beach in the Spanish sunshine, this is the £141,000-a-year union activist plotting strike chaos over the summer holidays.
Brian Strutton and his wife Sue enjoyed a trip to Valencia in April, posting a picture of their sun-drenched break.
While there they dropped in at a cookery school – the Escuela de Arroces y Paella Valenciana – to learn how to cook the city’s traditional paella dish.
Mr Strutton later posted on Twitter: ‘Just had a fabulous mini-break in Valencia, what a great city. Loved it.’
Since returning to the UK, the 59-year-old union veteran has been busy orchestrating a mass strike by British Airways pilots that could scupper the holiday plans for hundreds of thousands of passengers.
Britain’s flag carrier yesterday failed to stop industrial action after a legal challenge was rejected by appeal judges.
Sitting by a glorious sandy beach in the Spanish sunshine, this is the £141,000-a-year union activist plotting strike chaos over the summer holidays. Pictured: Brian Strutton and his wife Sue enjoying a trip to Valencia in April
Pilots’ union Balpa has now made it clear the protest will go ahead unless there is a breakthrough in negotiations this week.
As general secretary of the little-known British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), it has emerged that Mr Strutton is paid a similar six-figure salary to many of the pilots he represents.
According to Balpa’s latest financial accounts, he received a total pay package worth just under £141,500. This included a basic salary worth £107,625.
The previous year he was paid £155,242 – around £5,000 more than the prime minister received that year.
But his generous pay package may rankle with Britons on far more modest incomes who have been saving up for their summer holiday all year – and who may this month bear the brunt of the pilots’ dispute as they face chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick.
A Balpa spokesman said: ‘We understand the frustration and worry that possible industrial action in British Airways will cause for the travelling public, which is why we’re doing everything we can to avoid taking industrial action.
‘Pilots have a legitimate dispute with their employer and not the travelling public. BA made a £2billion profit last year and pilots are