The Guardian and other sources are reporting that British Airways' cabin crew will stage a series of strikes over two consecutive weekends this month, beginning with a three-day walkout March 20 and followed by a four-day action March 27.
The first strikes by BA cabin crew in nearly 13 years have been called by the Unite trade union after a breakdown in talks over staffing cuts. The industrial action by up to 12,000 flight attendants has been timed to bring maximum disruption to BA, with the airline facing a struggle to reinstate a normal timetable between strikes.
BA carries around 75,000 passengers a day and the strikes will affect hundreds of thousands of passengers. The airline has pledged to run a significant skeleton service with the help of 1,000 volunteer cabin crew.
Unite announced it would ballot its 12,000 cabin crew members on a new offer tabled at the 11th hour by the airline, giving a glimmer of hope that the strikes could be averted.
The walkout will affect BA's 650 daily services. However, the airline has pledged to break the strike with 1,000 volunteer flight attendants drawn from the ranks of its non-cabin crew workforce, and is preparing to hire 23 airplanes, complete with their own trained crew.
The BA chief executive, Willie Walsh, said he hoped to operate a substantial proportion of the airline's Heathrow airport long-haul operations and a good number of short-haul flights.
BA has said it will operate its entire schedule from London City airport during the expected strike and has claimed more than two-thirds of its Gatwick-based crews will work normally.