British Airways has lost a Court of Appeal bid to block pilots from taking strike action in a dispute over pay.
Three senior judges in London refused to grant the airline a temporary injunction today.
They ruled that information provided to BA in a ballot notice was in accordance with the legislation which covers industrial action.
Legal action followed an announcement last week by the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) that its members had backed industrial action by more than nine to one, on a turnout of 90%.
BA went to the High Court in an attempt to halt the strikes, which it claims are designed to cause “the maximum in disruption” and could cost the airline up to £40 million a day.
But a judge in London dismissed the company’s application for an interim injunction to prevent strike action by pilots based at Heathrow and Gatwick.
BA argued that Balpa’s ballots did not comply with trade union law.
But Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing ruled last week that Balpa was “more likely than not” to establish at a full trial that its strike ballots were properly issued.
BA, which has said the strikes are “likely to commence on or about August 7”, urged the Court of Appeal judges to overturn the High Court judge’s decision at a hearing on Tuesday.
Announcing the court’s decision today, Lady Justice Simler said she accepted that providing more information in the notice would have been “of assistance” to BA.
However, the judge, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Lord Justice Hamblen, said she was “satisfied” that the notice met the statutory requirements.
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “The Court of Appeal has today rightly dismissed BA’s attempt to injunct this industrial action on a technicality.
“BA’s attempt to defeat the democratic view of their pilots in court, rather than deal with us across the negotiating table, has sadly wasted huge amounts of time and money that could have been put into finding a peaceful resolution. Now the window for negotiation and compromise is closing fast.
“BA need to wake up to reality. Our ballot returned 93% in favour of strike action. There is a serious issue here and BA has so far refused to help us tackle it.
“On BA’s own figures submitted to the court, even a single day of strike action will cost far more than we believe it would take to settle this dispute.
“However, Balpa wants to resolve this matter through negotiation and so we are not announcing strike dates. Instead, we have called on BA to hold further talks at Acas and they have agreed to meet at Acas today and for the rest of this week for one last try to resolve this dispute by negotiation.
“We have spent four days in talks at Acas already, and BA refused to move their position one iota. But we hope they now recognise the seriousness of the situation and will work positively with us to find a way forward.
“We are not announcing strike dates today. In any event we are required by law to provide BA with 14 days’ notice of any proposed strike action.”