British Airways pilots have voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay, threatening a walkout over the key summer holiday period.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said 93% of its members had voted in favour of industrial action.
A strike would be likely to cause severe disruption, as Balpa represents about 90% of the airline’s pilots.
BA said it was “very disappointed” that the union was threatening “the travel plans of thousands of our customers”.
The union said it did not yet have any dates for a potential strike, adding it still hoped that the dispute could be resolved.
British Airways said it remained open to working with the union to reach an agreement and continued to “pursue every avenue to find a solution to protect our customers’ travel plans and avoid industrial action”.
Pilots have rejected a pay increase worth 11.5% over three years, which the airline says is “fair and generous”.
However, Balpa argues that its members deserve a better offer, as BA has been making healthy profits.
The vote in favour of action comes after three days of negotiations between the airline and pilots’ union with conciliation service Acas.
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said the strong result in favour of action showed “the resolve of BA pilots” and said BA “must table a sensible improved offer if a strike is to be averted”.
“We do not wish to inconvenience our customers, which is why we have tried to resolve this matter through negotiation starting last November. It is BA who has regrettably chosen to drag this out into the summer months,” he added.
High Court injunction
British Airways is seeking an injunction on Tuesday in the High Court to halt any potential strike action.
The union would have to give British Airways a minimum of two weeks’ notice of any action, meaning the earliest any action could could take place is 6 August.
Balpa said the High Court hearing meant any further negotiations “are on hold while we prepare to defend our right to take this action”.
The union argues that the the cost to BA to settle the dispute in full is “significantly less than the cost would be of even a single day’s strike action”.
“We currently do not have dates for any potential strike action and will issue an update on this in due course. We remain hopeful that this dispute can be resolved before strike action, but we remain committed to action if necessary,” added Mr Strutton.
British Airways is part of International Airlines Group (IAG), which also owns Spanish carrier Iberia. Last year, it reported a pre-tax profit of €3bn, up almost 9.8% on the previous year.
British Airways contributed £1.96bn to that, up 8.7% on 2017.
It also rewarded investors with a total dividend payout of €1.3bn.