Strike will not affect most passengers, says BA

Airline says it expects to fly more than 75% of passengers during the next cabin crew strike.

Of 240,000 customers booked to fly, 180,000 will fly on BA planes or hired planes whilst a further 43,000 will be rebooked onto other carriers or have their travel dates changed the airline said in a press statement today. Several thousand customers have also brought their dates of travel forward by one day, it added. It said that all London Gatwick and London City flights would operate normally.

At Heathrow, the airline's main UK hub, 70% of long-haul flights would be operating and 55% of its short-haul. BA said these figures were higher than operating figures for the first BA strike earlier this month. However the next strike, due to begin at midnight and last for four days, could still affect 17,000 travellers. Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA, has apologised for disruption to travellers.

The dispute between the airline and the Unite union over workers' conditions has yet to reach a resolution. Mr Walsh has said he will not reinstate the perks for workers on strike, and would not compromise on the issue. The Unite union is arguing that BA's contingency plans were "costing more money than it would cost to solve the dispute," and said in a letter to its members that the "full restoration" of the workers' package was a condition of any deal with BA.

Mr Walsh has recently drawn ire from industrial relationships experts, with nearly 100 academics sending a signed letter to the Guardian newspaper accusing him of trying to break the union representing cabin crew. However Mr Walsh rejected the criticism, saying that he had spoken to union representatives and had requested the involvement of the TUC and conciliation service Acas.