British Airways has claimed its contingency plans are working well after the first day of strikes.

The airline is relying on a combination of volunteers, leased aircraft and purchasing seats from more than 65 carriers to maintain about 65% of its services.

In a statement, it said all longhaul aircraft were able to depart from overseas on Saturday evening and arrived as normal Heathrow and Gatwick this morning.

It said: “Our planned schedule of departures at Heathrow and Gatwick is also continuing to work well. On Sunday, cabin crew are continuing to report as normal and Heathrow levels remain above what we need to operate our published schedule.”

However, the Unite union also claimed victory after the first day of action and insisted BA’s contingency plans had failed.

Tony Woodley, the joint secretary of the union, appealed to the airline’s chairman Martin Broughton to step in to aid negotiations.

“I am now appealing to the BA chairman and sensible members of the board to use their influence, put passengers first, and return to the negotiating table for the good of everyone. It is quite obvious this strike is in no-one’s interest. We need a negotiated settlement,” he said.

The first stoppage, which lasts three days, is due to finish on Monday but there are fears that disruption could last through the week.

See the latest updates from BA.