British Airways lost a U.K. court bid to halt a pilot strike, in a ruling that may clear the path for walkouts at the height of the busy summer travel season.
The ruling Wednesday raises the risk of the airline’s first pilot strike in about four decades, in a dispute about pay, profit sharing and a share-awards program.
Speaking ahead of the judgment, Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association, said that if the union won it would hold fresh talks with the airline until the end of the week, and would decide on Friday whether to announce strike dates.
That means walkouts could potentially begin in mid-August, because unions are required to give two weeks’ notice of a strike. The airline warned during the court hearings that a strike would be “enormously disruptive” and could cost it as much as 40 million pounds ($49 million) per day.
Strutton said ahead of the ruling that he hoped a victory for the union would “give BA a wake-up call” to negotiate so that strikes could be avoided.
“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,” Strutton said in a statement after the ruling. “Now the window for negotiation and compromise is closing fast.”
The airline had argued in court that the strike ballot -- where pilots backed industrial action with a 93% majority -- didn’t comply with labor union law
By Kaye Wiggins