Thomson Airways planes at Manchester airport in 2010 / Getty

Crew controllers at Thomson Airways are being balloted from November

Thomson Airways, the world’s largest charter airline, faces the threat of Christmas strikes, which could ruin thousands of holiday-makers’ travel plans.

Unite union will ballot Thomson’s crew controllers and their assistants, who organise staff rotas and cover, after a row erupted over below inflation pay increases.

The ballot, which will take place between 19 November and 10 December, comes after negotiations to resolve the dispute broke down.

Workers are unhappy that while other employees have been rewarded well by Thomson, crew controllers’ pay has not kept up with the RPI rate of inflation since 2010.

Kevin Hall, a Unite regional officer, said: “This is an extremely profitable company that rewards other sections of its workforce very generously and our members in the crewing department see this day in, day out.”

He added: “We do not believe it is unreasonable to start to bring our members pay back in line with inflation and the early indications we have had from our members is that this ballot will be well supported.”

“Passengers could face the real threat of disruption in the run to the Christmas holidays, if the crew controllers and their assistants walk out.

Sophie Deans, a press officer for Thomson, said that the company had contingency plans in place to ensure that customers would not suffer disruption.

She added: "Thomson Airways is surprised and disappointed to note that Unite intends to ballot our small team of crew roster controllers to consider strike action over the Christmas and New Year period, despite being offered what we believe is an extremely fair and reasonable pay deal.

"We feel this is premature as further talks are scheduled for next week.

The ballot was announced on the eve of the airline’s parent company general meeting, to be held in Germany.