British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has said 1,000 volunteers will stand in for cabin crew during a potential strike.

Speaking via a webcast on the airline’s intranet, he said 1,000 staff had already been trained and would be ready to begin next week in the event of a strike.

The news comes a week after 80% of Unite union members voted in favour of industrial action over pay and working conditions.

Walsh said the airline could still operate long haul and about half of all short haul flights from Gatwick should the strike go ahead.

BA would also hire up to 23 fully crewed planes from a charter company to help run flights from Heathrow and has block booked seats with rival carriers to help keep customers flying.

The Unite union criticised Walsh’s stance saying it was “inflammatory and confrontational”.