British Airways (BA) chief executive, Rod Eddington, has vowed to fight a landmark sex discrimination ruling right to the European Court.
In April, an employment tribunal ruled in favour of 26-year-old BA pilot Jessica Starmer, who complained of sex discrimination when she was not allowed to cut her hours to look after her baby.
Starmer wanted to fly 50% of her allotted hours, but BA insisted that she fly at least 75% of the time, to build up her hours in the cockpit.
Eddington believes the company had no option but to take the case further, because there were important safety principles at stake.
“We will fight this all the way,” he said.
BA rules state that pilots with less than 2,000 flying hours must fly at least 75% of the time. Starmer, who has flown for BA for four years, has only flown 1,100 hours.
The airline, which has around 150 female pilots out of a total of 2,900, expects its appeal to be heard in the next few months.
It is likely to face opposition from the pilots union, Balpa, which said the safety rule had been introduced five months after the airline had refused Starmer’s initial request.