BA insisted that all the volunteers are fully trained and safety would never be compromised / PA

British Airways is to increase its flying schedule during a three-day strike by its cabin crew after more staff volunteered to work, the airline announced today.

The company said more employees had offered to stand in for members of the Unite union who will walk out for three days from Saturday in a bitter row over cost cutting.

BA said earlier this week that it aimed to fly 60% of its customers during the strikes, but the airline announced that since then the number of cabin crew offering to work as normal had increased "significantly", and was expected to grow further.

"British Airways is also pleased that the number of other airlines offering their help for the strike period through charters or provision of spare seats has increased from 50 on Monday to more than 60.

"These developments have enabled the airline to reinstate some previously cancelled flights and provide extra capacity for both long haul and short haul destinations. For example, this will allow the airline to fly home more competitors and supporters from the Winter Paralympics in Vancouver," BA said in a statement.

Chief executive Willie Walsh said: "The determination of our colleagues across the whole business to keep the flag flying this weekend is increasing.

"I am delighted by the numbers of cabin crew who have been getting in touch with us to express their disillusion with Unite's position. Our crews just want to work as normal, do their usual terrific job and look after our customers.

"We will now have the potential to fly more than 4,000 additional customers per day and serve more destinations. We believe this is a helpful move at a time when customers are facing rising fares with alternative carriers."

"Morale among our operations teams is high. Yesterday was our most punctual day at Heathrow for months, thanks to the efforts of all parts of the airline."

The union is also planning a four-day strike from March 27.