Talks between airline catering company Gate Gourmet and the Transport & General Workers' Union (T&G) have broken down after the firm refused to reinstate sacked staff.
The US-owned firm and the T&G had been locked in talks following last week's wilcat strike, which led to massive delays for British Airways flights.
Gate Gourmet has ruled out re-employing all the sacked staff - a key demand of the union negotiators. Both sides had earlier stressed they hoped to reach an agreement.
However, Gate Gourmet said that if it was unable to reach a deal with the union, "the most likely outcome will be that the business will be forced into administration".
Gate Gourmet said that while agreement had been reached on most issues, it was not willing to reinstate employees that instigated or incited illegal action. The company "will not allow itself to be continually put at risk and held to ransom by this type of illegal action", it said.
Eric Born, Gate Gourmet's managing director, blamed the union for the collapse of talks.
"I am utterly stunned and disappointed at the attitude of the union and the way it has acted. It is clear that [the T&G] does not have the travelling public's interest at heart," he said.
However, T&G general secretary, Tony Woodley, said: "Talks have broken down as a consequence of Gate Gourmet wanting to selectively re-employ those who had been sacked even though there is enough work for everyone."