BA wins court backing to cut cabin crew numbers

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British Airways has secured an important victory over its cabin crew, after a court backed the decision to cut the number of attendants on some routes.

The Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that the UK airline had not breached contracts when it slashed jobs last year. The ruling came as a blow to the Unite trade union, which represents 12,000 BA cabin crew, and had brought the appeal. Justice Janet Smith said that while there was uncertainty in the contracts, their wording did not guarantee the levels of staff on flights.

A spokesman for BA said the company was pleased that the judgment confirmed its "modest changes" to onboard crew numbers on flights "were reasonable, did not breach crew contracts and can remain in place".

The UK's flagship airline has been locked in dispute with its crew since November last year, when it announced cuts to certain routes as part of a drive to save £140m in costs.

Unite attempted to stymie the airline's plans with an injunction in February but the High Court dismissed its action. Yesterday's Court of Appeal verdict upheld that decision.

Cabin staff took industrial action earlier this year, with 22 days of walkouts. The union is balloting staff on a new offerfrom BA.

Last week, the airline reported its first profit for two years, hitting £158m in the first half.