UK pilots have claimed a “huge victory” after a European court ruled British Airways should base holiday pay on overall earnings not just basic pay.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said the European Court of Justice verdict would affect pilots and cabin crew and may cost airlines £50m.
The case will now go back to the UK Supreme Court for a final ruling, which the union said was unlikely to differ.
BA said it would await the Supreme Court’s decision.
Balpa claimed airlines might have to pay out £20m to pilots and £30m to cabin crew and other employees following the decision in Europe.
It said the test case could potentially affect up to 12,000 pilots and cabin crew working for BA and other airlines, and based its calculations on backdated pay over six years.
“Balpa will be seeking to agree similar holiday pay arrangements for pilots in other UK airlines”
Jim McAuslanBalpa general secretary
A spokesman acknowledged that BA could raise new information before the Supreme Court which might result in an alternative outcome to the ruling in Europe.
But he said there was a feeling in the industry that it was a “done deal” and the UK court would fall in line with the European ruling.
Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: “This is a major victory for all pilots in the UK, not just the 3,000 British Airways pilots who had their claims heard by the European Court of Justice.
“The calculation of holiday pay was a clear example of pilots being short-changed by their employers.
“We always believed that, under European working time rules introduced in 2004, pilots should be treated like other working people in the UK and should receive their proper pay during holidays.
“This should not be restricted to basic salary but should include allowances.
“British Airways and other UK airlines opposed us but, after a six-year legal battle, the European Court of Justice finally agreed with us.
“Based on this BA judgement, Balpa will be seeking to agree similar holiday pay arrangements for pilots in other UK airlines.”
But a BA spokesman said the ultimate decision always lay with the UK Supreme Court, which had only referred “technical aspects” of the case to the ECJ for a determination.
A spokesman said: “We are considering the European Court’s ruling, and await the decision of the Supreme Court on whether it affects the holiday pay which has been collectively agreed between BA and its trade unions.”