BA passengers to fly Qatar Airways during strike

With another cabin-crew strike underway, about 5,000 British Airways passengers for the next 16 days may have to fly Qatar Airways, after the carrier leased nine jets and crews from the Middle Eastern airline so it could continue running its services.

The 1-16 July strike comes as the latest episode in a protracted dispute involving members of the Unite union working for BA's Mixed Fleet at Heathrow.

Thousands of passengers had said their flights had been cancelled, but the airline said the ''vast majority'' of its flights will operate – partly thanks to the planes BA was borrowing.

According to commentators, the dispute was originally about pay.

Mixed Fleet was created in 2010, and currently constituted about a third of BA's total cabin crew. The employment terms of mixed crew are inferior to longer-serving staff. Mixed Fleet cabin crew who are members of the Unite union initiated the strike action at the start of the year in a bid to improve what they called ''poverty pay''.

According to commentators British Airways and Unite had reached agreement on pay and the bone of contention was what the union describes as ''punitive sanctions'' against 1,400 members who had participated in previous strikes, involving the removal of bonus payments and staff travel concessions.

Around 1,400 crew will stop work, which amounted one in four of the Mixed Fleet total.