UPDATED - strike action in the air for British Airways
Finally, after months of foreplay with British Airways, Unite finally look like they're going to get it on. The union, which represents many of the airline's staff, has called a press conference for later this morning. While not confirmed yet, it's thought that union representatives will announce formal strike action. Unite has to announce any intended action by this Monday, and British Airways have not announced any breakthrough in negotiations, so it's looking very likely.
Unite has been squaring up to the airline for months, over changes to working conditions for longhaul cabin crew. After the threat of Christmas strikes passed without incident, they now have a legal ballot behind them and can give seven day's notice before taking strike action. According to the BBC, Unite have promised not to strike over the Easter holidays - the first two to three weeks of Easter. That means if industrial action is announced today, it may curtail BA flights from next Friday (19th) through to the end of the month.
If strikes go ahead, British Airways will continue to operate some flights. If has trained 1,000 volunteers as cabin crew to act as replacements (christ, it'll be like Celebair, but with cabin crew who are somehow less well known), and is considering hiring in staff from other airlines. BA has stated flights from London City Airport will not be affected, and that over two thirds of flights from Gatwick should run to schedule. No guarantees can be made about any routes operating out of Heathrow until the strike is declared.
Industrial action is likely to take its toll on domestic and shorthaul flights first - the public line is that there are more travel options available to passengers travelling shorter distances, but BA won't want to lose loyal longhaul custom to their competitors. If you are booked on board a BA flight that is likely to be affected, you can find out what your options are on the British Airways website.
UPDATE: From Unite's official statement:
“Strikes are planned for March 20, 21 and 22 and further on March 27, 28, 29 and 30. There will be no strikes over the Easter period, as we already promised, but further industrial action will be called to take place after April 14 if the dispute has not been resolved."
British Airways has already begun posting details of affected flights on its website.