UPDATE 3-BA union wins UK court appeal over strike ruling

* Union says no strikes before Monday, settlement eyed

* Two out of three judges overturn BA strike injunction

* Shares fall 3.4 pct

(Adds Unite strike dates, comment, updates shares)

By Stefano Ambrogi and Rhys Jones

LONDON, May 20 (BestGrowthStock) – A British Airways (BAY.L: ) cabin
crew trade union won an appeal on Thursday against a court
injunction brought in this week to stop a new wave of walkouts
by the airline’s staff.

Seeking a settlement, the Unite union said BA crews would go
on strike for five days from Monday unless the two sides could
settle a dispute over pay as the airline tries to cut costs.

Unite said further strikes would take place for five days
from May 30 and five days from June 5, should there be no peace
deal.

Travel through London, one of the world’s busiest airline
hubs, was hit by BA crew striking earlier this year, before
Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud caused more widespread disruption
last month.

“BA management now has a chance over the next three days to
address our outstanding concerns and seize the possibility for
industrial peace,” Unite’s joint general secretary Derek Simpson
said in a statement on Thursday.

“Failing that, cabin crew will once more be taking
industrial action with our full support.”

Two of the three appeal court judges ruled in favour of
Unite in a knife-edge decision. One of them said a small
infringement in the way the strike was balloted — the case for
BA’s injunction on Monday — should not invalidate the ballot.

BA, which is in the process of merging with Spanish airline
Iberia (IBLA.MC: ), said in a statement it was “very
disappointed”, adding that it had a contingency plan to keep
planes in the air and fly more tha 70 percent of customers.

BA is trying to get a deal with Unite which will save 62.5
million pounds ($90 million) a year to counter falling demand,
volatile fuel prices and greater competition.

Unite said it had come to an agreement in principle with BA
over its cost-cutting plans but the restoration of travel perks
for striking staff had not been agreed, holding up settlement of
the wider dispute.

BA’S FINANCIAL WORRIES

Originally the union had planned to stage four strikes from
May 18-22, May 24-28, May 30-June 3, and June 5-9.

The dispute with cabin crew has already caused seven days of
strikes in March, which cost the airline 45 million pounds.

The walkouts come at a bad time for the airline, which is
due to present its full-year results on Friday.

Shares in BA fell 3.2 percent to 186.5 pence, valuing the
business at around 2.2 billion pounds.

“This increases near term uncertainty on BA’s business,”
Davy Stockbrokers analyst Stephen Furling said of the strikes.

BA’s merger with Spain’s Iberia, which is eventually
expected to generate 400 million euros ($497 million) a year in
cost savings, will help BA recoup its strike-related losses when
it is finalised later this year.

BA also expects to cut costs further by merging its
transatlantic operations with American Airlines (AMR.N: ), which
will allow the pair to operate as a single airline if the tie-up
is cleared by regulators.

BGC Partners analyst Howard Wheeldon said the Iberia deal
would go ahead and many striking staff could become “superfluous
to requirements” once the merger is finalised.

Investing Basics

($1=.8054 euros)
($1=.6970 pounds)
(Additional reporting by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Greg
Mahlich)

UPDATE 3-BA union wins UK court appeal over strike ruling