BA threatens court action to stop pilots’ strike

British Airways has threatened to go to court to stop a strike by pilots, but union sources suggest the threat has increased the likelihood of action over Easter.

Talks between the airline and pilots’ union Balpa have broken down without agreement. Balpa members are angry at BA plans to employ pilots on separate contracts at start-up subsidiary OpenSkies, due to launch in June. The new carrier will fly between New York and Paris or Brussels.

Pilots voted by an 86% majority for a strike – the first at BA in 30 years – but must take the first day of any action by March 20 or will require a fresh ballot.

BA said today it would challenge any walk-out under a clause in the Treaty of Rome – forerunner of the treaty to establish the European Union. It will seek a court injunction forbidding a strike, pending a full hearing.

However, union sources suggested: “Just announcing a strike will hurt BA.” Balpa leaders were expected to respond to BA by Tuesday morning.

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