British Airways will find out on Thursday if it has won an injunction to stop a 12-day strike planned over Christmas by cabin crew as last ditch talks between the airline and the union continue.
BA management and officials from the Unite union met on Wednesday but failed to reach a compromise as BA is unwilling to negotiate on changes it has already implemented, including a reduction in cabin crew on long-haul and short-haul flights.
The carrier and Unite are locked in a High Court action to decide whether the strike ballot was legal. A judge presiding over the case said she would rule on BA's application to restrain the strike on grounds that it is unlawful on Thursday.
"The case is reopening at 10:30 GMT and Unite have to present their defence so we would realistically expect a decision on Thursday afternoon," a BA spokesman said, adding that talks between the airline and Unite would continue on Thursday.
BA cabin crew said on Monday they would walk out from December 22, escalating a dispute over job losses and changes to working practices. Some 13,000 BA staff were balloted by Unite, 92.5 percent of whom favoured industrial action.
In London's High Court BA said voting irregularities rendered the strike ballot invalid. The carrier said it believes ballot papers were sent to staff who had left the company or were in the process of leaving and should not have been balloted, breaching industrial relations law.
BA's lawyers on Wednesday argued that around 1,000 votes from ex-staff were wrongly included in the ballot.
If the ballot is ruled illegal then the strike would have to be called off, meaning the union would have to re-ballot after Christmas.
Analysts estimate the strike would cost the airline around GBP30 million pounds a day with around 1 million passengers affected and 7,000 flights grounded.
The airline wants three quarters of its crew to accept pay rises of 2-7 percent this year and a pay freeze in 2010, and for 3,000 staff to switch to part-time working, along with a reduction in onboard crewing levels from 15 to 14 on long-haul flights from London's Heathrow airport.