British Airways: Unite Union Strikes Back

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REUTERS/Toby Melville/Files

Despite BA winning a last-second legal injunction that effectively banned cabin crews from commencing a 20-day strike Tuesday, the Unite union has filed for leave to appeal, which should be heard later today. The airline, however, is putting a brave face on events despite the court decision coming too late for BA to reinstate a full schedule. It claims that at Heathrow airport, 90% of long-haul flights — and 50% of short-haul — are operating normally Tuesday. Breaking that down,  it means a passenger list of 60,000 people should fly, compared with the 85,000 that’s normal for this time of year. BA did confirm that Gatwick and London City airports are unaffected.

But here comes the ominous news for “the world’s favorite airline”: A successful appeal could see strikes going ahead later this month, and if Unite fails it said it will still ballot members again on industrial action. “Our members have more legitimacy in their strike action than the government sitting in Number 10,” said Steve Turner, Unite spokesman. “We have the law saying that our ballot is unlawful. That’s an affront to democracy.”

In short, it’s highly likely that the strike has merely been postponed; throw in the possibility that Iceland’s volcanic ash could be causing havoc of its own for the foreseeable future and it’s clear that air turbulence is taking on an entirely new meaning in 2010.

Watch the latest report on the strike here and listen to BA boss Willie Walsh here.