Strike action by EasyJet staff could disrupt thousands of holidaymakers preparing to jet off for the summer holidays, causing a further headache for the low-cost airline.
British cabin crew staff are planning to walk out over pay after talks between unions and the airline broke down following months of negotiations.
EasyJet has said it is confident its summer flight schedule will operate as usual and is reassuring its passengers that there is "no industrial action currently planned by its UK cabin crew".
However, Unite intends to hold a ballot for strike action from next week, with a result expected as soon as 3 August. The union said it is urging EasyJet bosses to return to the table for talks to continue.
EasyJet said it will go ahead with a award staff a 4.1 per cent pay rise and 5.1 per cent for cabin managers over the next two years, "on top of an already market-leading set of pay and conditions in the UK" despite it being rejected by union members.
"We believe it is right to make the award now since cabin crew, the majority of which are not union members, have been waiting for a conclusion to the pay discussions for a number of months," the airline said.
"EasyJet is disappointed that in a recent Unite pay ballot members voted to reject the offer however we note that the majority of… cabin crew are not members of Unite and we estimate only one in five of EasyJet's UK cabin crew voted against the offer."
The low-cost carrier, which earlier this year hit turbulence when French air traffic controllers went on strike, said the pay deal is well above both inflation and pay increases for staff at British Airways and Thomas Cook.
"We would urge EasyJet to drop its high-handed approach and enter back into talks," said Unite regional officer Kevin Hall. "Cabin crew have worked hard to make easyJet a success enabling the company to record pre-tax profits in excess of half a billion.
"At the same director’s pay has soared by over 18 per cent while the chief executive, Carolyn McCall has seen her pay rise to more than £6 million, over 240 times more than the average cabin crew member. All our members are asking for is a decent pay rise that reflects the important role they have played in making easyJet a leading airline.”
Shares in easyJet have tumbled nearly 20 per cent since a high of 1,915 pence per share this year in April, as the budget airline favoured by many holidaymakers took a £25m hit from the French strikes, despite turning a profit in the first six months of the year.