Thousands of flights from the UK could be cancelled due to a dispute between pilots and the Government over identity cards.
The British Airline Pilots Association has said that its members would refuse to co-operate with Home Office over plans to use airside workers as “guinea pigs” for the new cards.
The refusal follows London City and Manchester airports agreeing to participate in the 18-month study of the benefits of identity cards, starting in the autumn.
Balpa, which covers 84 per cent of the commercial pilots in Britain, has told the airports that pilots would refuse to co-operate, meaning pilots would not be given airside passes and therefore could not fly.
Jim McAuslan, Balpa general secretary, told The Times: “Forcing pilots to have ID cards is an affront to the people who for years have been, and continue to be, at the forefront in the battle against terrorist outrages.”
“Our understanding from the draft regulations is that the individual will be out of a job. This could be an individual who has served his or her country as a service pilot being told they are not now trusted. This is unacceptable and demeaning and we will resist.”
Balpa said: “It is clear that the Government’s staged introduction of biometric identity cards first to overseas students, then to migrant workers and then for aviation workers, represents a way of picking off what are seen as easy targets.”
In response the Identity and Passport Service said: “Identity cards will benefit workers - not just by improving security, but also by speeding up pre-employment checks and increasing the efficiency of pass-issuing arrangements.”