British Airways is facing a fresh wave of strikes after a dramatic court victory by the cabin crew union that cleared the way for 15 days of industrial action.
Unite won an appeal against an injunction that blocked a planned five-day walkout this week and later confirmed that strikes will start on Monday.
Cabin crew will take action for five days, followed by further five-day stoppages from May 30-June 3 and from June 5-9, threatening travel chaos for tens of thousands of passengers.
BA said it was “disappointed” with the Court of Appeal's decision, adding that it will implement its contingency plans to keep aircraft flying.
Shares in BA began the day on the front foot but fell sharply after Unite won its appeal and were trading almost 4% lower in a difficult session for the wider market.
The airline is set to unveil a huge £600m slide into the red for the year to March today, bringing total losses in the past two years to £1bn after a £401m reverse in 2009.
The latest results will include an estimated £40m to £45m hit from the first round of strikes in March. The new strikes could cost the firm another £100m in the current financial year, with Iceland's volcanic ash cloud adding to its woes.
Unite said last night: “Following today's decision by the Court of Appeal to overturn the injunction restraining strike action at British Airways, Unite the union
today confirmed that cabin crew would go on strike for five days from Monday May 24, as previously notified.”
Joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley said: “British Airways management now has a chance over the next three days to address our outstanding concerns and seize the possibility for industrial peace. We hope it has the wisdom to do so.”
BA's lawyers said that it would consider the judgment and reserved its position on whether to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
BA said: “We are very disappointed for our customers that Unite's appeal has been upheld and that the union intends to go ahead with its unjustified and pointless strikes.”