The chairman and board members of British Airways have been urged to “use their influence” in a bid to resolve the cabin crew dispute, which descended into a bitter war of words after a weekend of strike action.
Unite and the airline clashed over the impact of the first two days of a three-day walkout, giving wildly different statements about the numbers supporting the action.
Chancellor Alistair Darling said the strike was “totally unnecessary” and continued the government line that the two sides needed to resume talks.
Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite attacked the “macho” management style of chief executive Willie Walsh and said it was time for the airline’s chairman Martin Broughton and “sensible” directors to intervene.
He said that despite “propaganda” from BA about the number of staff working during this weekend’s strike, he was certain that the vast majority of Unite members were taking industrial action.
“Contrary to the spin from the company about this strike collapsing, only nine cabin crew have broken ranks and 80 have gone sick.
“I am now appealing to the BA chairman and sensible members of the board to use their influence, put passengers first, and return to the negotiating table for the good of everyone.
“It is quite obvious this strike is in no-one’s interest. We need a negotiated settlement.”
Mr Woodley wrote an open letter to cabin crew congratulating them on their “magnificent” support for the strike, which is due to continue on Monday, followed by a four day walkout from next Saturday.
“You have stood up and stood strong for your rights, your dignity and your pride in the face of a bullying management and a malicious Tory media,” he wrote.
Mr Woodley urged his members: “Stay strong, be brave, don’t be intimidated. Don’t let the unfair abuse get to you.”
Unite said BA claims about the numbers reporting for work were a “distortion” because they included those flying back to the UK from trips which took them out of the country before the strike started.
The union claimed many planes leaving Heathrow were “ghost flights”, with no or only a handful of passengers on board and only minimum crew.
BA said it had reinstated a number of cancelled flights this weekend after maintaining that more crew than expected had turned up for work.
BA claimed 1,157 cabin crew ignored the first day of the three-day stoppage on Saturday and reported for duty - equivalent to 97 per cent of Gatwick crew and 52.5 per cent of Heathrow crew.
The airline said in a statement: “Our contingency plans are continuing to work well on Sunday at all airports around the world.
“Our revised schedule of departures at Heathrow and Gatwick is going as planned and many aircraft are now departing full.
“We continue to operate a full Boeing 777 longhaul programme from the UK to more than 30 destinations around the world and are adding in several extra Boeing 747 flights, due to the numbers of crew reporting for work.
“This is on top of the nine extra longhaul flights we added into the schedule last night and will include again today.
“We have also added additional shorthaul flights into our schedule at both Heathrow and Gatwick and customers can now book onto these flights.
“Our charter operators are also continuing to work well with good punctuality levels. These flights are being integrated with our own shorthaul flying schedules at Heathrow and Gatwick.
“On Sunday, cabin crew are continuing to report as normal at Gatwick, and Heathrow levels remain above what we need to operate our published schedule. All of our flights at London City remain unaffected.”