British Airways is expected to confirm later today which flights will be cancelled, following a decision by cabin crew to strike later this month.
Unite – which represents more than 12,000 crew at the British flag-carrier – confirmed on Friday staff would walk out for three days from March 20th and for a further four days from March 27th.
In response, British Airways in expected to cut a number of short-haul flights, freeing the airline to concentrate on the lucrative long-haul market.
The airline said in a statement to passengers: “We are currently finalising our flight schedules for the strike period and have temporarily stopped selling seats on all flights operating on the strike dates.”
Schedules were expected to be finalised “in the next few days”.
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At present British Airways expects to operate all departures from London City Airport, while flights from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports to destinations outside of Europe are also expected to fly.
“Some flights” to destinations within the UK and Europe will also operate, British Airways confirmed.
Chief executive Willie Walsh has previously outline plans to recruit up to 1,000 cabin crew from within the ranks of British Airways’ existing staff, while also chartering a fleet of jets from rival airlines.
Passengers booked to travel between March 19th and 31st on affected flights will have the choice of rebooking or cancelling and obtaining a refund.
The developments come against a background of rumbling political tension.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, transport secretary Lord Adonis branded the strike “totally unjustified”.
“It is not only the damage it’s going to do to passengers and the inconvenience it’s going to cause - which is quite disproportionate to the issues at stake - but also the threat it poses to the future of one of our great companies in this country.
“It’s totally unjustified, this strike, on the merits of the issues at stake, and I do call on the union to engage constructively with the company,” he added.
Reports also suggest prime minister Gordon Brown has contacted Unite’s co-leader Tony Woodley to discuss possible solutions to the dispute. Mr Brown called the stike ““unjustified and deplorable” on this morning Today programme on Radio 4.
Talks between British Airways (which has been represented in negotiations by the Trade Union Congress) and the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA), Unite’s aviation arm, have been ongoing for months.
Unite is opposed to contractual changes imposed by British Airways in November 2009, which saw the number of cabin crew cut on long-haul flights and a number of other changes.
The airline is seeking to save £60 million for cabin crew budgets, in an effort to stem record financial losses.
The latest information from British Airways can be found here.