British Airways pilots have voted by a big majority to strike, escalating a pay dispute with the airline that could throw the summer travel season into disarray.
Members of the British Airline Pilots Association working for the airline voted 93% in favor of a strike action, the union announced Monday. It said 90% of its BA members took part in the ballot.
The union said it does not yet have any dates for a potential strike action, adding in a statement that the airline will attempt to stop the action by seeking an injunction in Britain’s high court Tuesday.
If a strike goes ahead, it would be the first by BA pilots since the 1970s.
The conflict stems from a fight over pay that the pilot’s association said it has been negotiating since late last year.
“BA is making massive profits as a result of the hard work and dedication of staff, including because of sacrifices made during hard times,” the association said in a statement. “Thankfully BA is no longer in a fight for survival so, like the airline’s senior managers and directors, pilots deserve a small fraction of that profit via, for instance, a profit share scheme.”
British Airways, a unit of IAG, said Monday it is “very disappointed” that the union “has chosen to disrupt our customer’s travel plans — including the summer holidays of thousands of families and friends.” Because there are no strike dates yet, the airline said it is not changing its schedule right now.
The company said it remains open to working with the union, adding that its proposed pay offer — an 11.5% increase over three years — is “fair.” It added that two other labor unions representing nearly 90% of British Airways staff had already recommended that offer to their members.
Brian Strutton, the pilots association’s general secretary, said the “strong result” of the vote shows that the airline “must table a sensible improved offer” to avert a strike.
“It is BA who has regrettably chosen to drag this out into the summer months,” Strutton said in a statement.
The pilots association also represents Ryanair pilots who are based in the United Kingdom. It announced last week that it will be issuing a ballot to its Ryanair members to decide on a possible strike action Wednesday. That dispute stems from issues over pay, pensions and other benefits.
The Ryanair ballot will close on August 7.