British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has slammed members of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (Bassa) for failing to act in the best interests of the 20,000 Unite members.

In a comment in today’s Times, Walsh attacks what he calls “a hardcore of union activists who think they have a right to control day-to-day cabin crew operations.”

He added: “Bassa reactionaries do not care about our customers, colleagues in other departments or even their own members.

“What they care about is preserving the appearance of their own importance.

“So Bassa cannot countenance a deal that involves permanent change.”

Walsh believes the “Bassa tail is wagging the Unite dog” and urged Unite co-leaders Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson to assert their authority as the “vast majority of members want them to do.”

The comment comes the day after an injunction was granted to halt the planned strikes.

Walsh expressed delight at having avoided what he described as an “absurdly disproportionate response to cabin crew operations”, but admitted the court injunction was only a temporary reprieve.

He reiterated his desire to resolve the dispute, expressed his belief that the terms on offer were fair and attacked segments of the union who “positively relish the prospect of a prolonged attack on customers and business that provides their members with good jobs, generous pensions and enviable lifestyles.”