British Airways has said possible strike action by 16,000 of its workers is “disappointing” as it seeks to avert summer travel disruption.
The UK’s flagship airline is facing further chaos and delays if industrial action goes ahead, following a consultative ballot held by Unite.
97 per cent of those asked backed possible strikes over pay and working conditions, but no action has been formally voted for or any dates agreed as yet.
In a statement, British Airways said: “This isn’t a ballot for industrial action, and whilst not surprising given the issues across the transport sector, it’s disappointing.
“After a deeply difficult two years which saw the business lose more than four billion pounds, we still offered payments to our colleagues for this year. We remain committed to open and honest talks with our trade unions about their concerns.”
This comes as airlines and airports have lost vast sums of money due to the pandemic and are now struggling with staff shortages.
Many airlines and airports let staff go during the coronavirus lockdowns, and are now finding it difficult to fill vacancies.
A Unite spokesperson said: “To anyone that has flown on British Airways recently, this overwhelming consultative ballot result will come as no surprise.
“British Airway’s management now can no longer ignore the universal discontent across their own workforce, in the way they have ignored the needs of their own customers.”
The union said “the airline is in chaos and that service levels are suffering” while criticising BA for “claiming hundreds of millions of pounds of furlough pay”. despite “thousands of experienced staff” being dismissed and not replaced.
“A self-inflicted shortage of check-in staff, loaders, baggage handlers and cabin crew now means that rather than soaring post covid, BA’s return to the skies faces a bumpy landing.”
“Staff are simply no longer willing to excuse, or pay the price for, poor management decisions. BA’s leadership created this chaos, the responsibility to resolve it lies entirely with the airline.”