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BA strike plan is a 'worry' for UK bosses

Business leaders have said that a series of planned strikes by British Airways cabin crew sent a "worrying message" about the state of the UK as the airline finalised its contingency plans to deal with the walkouts.

The airline said it planned to operate a "substantial" part of its long-haul schedule from Heathrow and predicted that flights to and from Gatwick would not be affected by the series of five-day stoppages, which will start next week.

Football fans heading to South Africa next month for the World Cup as well as families going on holiday during the spring school break are among hundreds of thousands of passengers facing travel chaos in the coming weeks because of a planned wave of strikes on May 18-22 inclusive, May 24-28, May 30-June 3 and June 5-9.

The Unite union urged cabin crew to challenge deductions from their pay during strikes in March, claiming that some cabin crew had wages deducted for days when they were not taking action.

Some crew have received back pay after contacting BA to complain about deductions, according to Unite.

BA said it was "saddened but not surprised" at the new strikes, adding: "This decision has no semblance of justification. Unite's officials continue to operate in their own world, showing callous disregard for our customers and their own members.

"We have made a very fair offer, which meets the concerns the union raised during 14 months of negotiations.

"We are confident that many crew will again ignore Unite's pointless strike call and support efforts to keep customers flying."

During the March strikes, BA said 60% of cabin crew had ignored the strike call - figures challenged by the union.