The union behind a two-day strike by British Airways starting today claims to have attracted more than 800 more staff from the airline since the dispute began over “poverty” pay.

This means over 2,900 members of Unite will be taking part in the 48-hour industrial action be taking in a row over pay at the airline’s so-called mixed fleet.

BA says the vast majority of flights from Heathrow will operate as normal and no services from Gatwick or London City airport will be affected.

The airline is to merge a “very small number” of flights to and from Heathrow but says it expects to fly more than 200,000 passengers over the two strike days.

The carrier disputes Unite estimates that on average ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew earn £16,000, including allowances, a year. Basic pay starts at just £12,192, according to the union.

“We reject Unite’s claims about mixed fleet’s earnings and have offered an independent audit of our pay data over the last 12 months to support our statement that mixed fleet cabin crew all earn more than £21,000,” BA said

“The pay data shows that the range of earnings paid out to full-time mixed fleet crew between September 1, 2015 and August 31, 2016 was £21,151.35-£27,356.30.”

Striking members of ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew were holding a rally at Unite’s Heathrow office early this morning.

The union’s national officer Oliver Richardson said: “More and more ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew have joined Unite as this dispute over poverty pay has gone on.

“Increasingly tired of delivering a first class service for poverty pay, ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew are at breaking point over pay levels which are forcing many of them to take a second job or turn up to work unfit to fly.

“Despite British Airways walking away from meaningful talks, we would urge it to listen to its ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew who work tirelessly to serve passengers and contribute massively to the success of the airline.

“With the parent company of British Airways forecasting annual profits in the region of £2.3 billion, it’s clear that the UK’s national carrier can pay the people who keep us safe while we fly a decent wage.”

BA said: “We urge Unite to abandon its strike plans which are serving only to cause anxiety among our mixed fleet cabin crew colleagues who do a tremendous job for our customers.

“We continue to be available for further dialogue with Unite.

“Our proposal for our mixed fleet cabin crew reflects pay awards given by other companies in the UK and will ensure their reward levels remain in line with cabin crew at our airline competitors. It is also consistent with pay deals agreed with Unite for other British Airways colleagues.”