But lo and behold, they actually meant it. Loony Communist Derek Simpson has decided to lead his Union members out on a strike over Christmas.
Will this strike finish BA? No, BA has £1.9 billion of cash at hand and facilities. Even if the strike costs £200 million, there is plenty of slack for BA management to fight with. However, as the airline is still loosing £2 million a day anyway so this cash reserve is dropping at a fairly fast rate. If BA was unable to turn itself around by the middle of 2010 then the problems could be very serious.
All of this ignores the horrendous pension deficit that the company has to manage of £3.7 billion, which is also draining annual cash flows.
In all this the staff at BA seem like lost sheep. Paid more than their rivals they don't want to lose their jobs and at a personal level, who would? But the reality of changes in air travel, from full service to no service as a rule, has changed the game. As has the massively volatile oil price and the recession. The crew are being led into a charge of the light brigade by very poor union leadership. There is no turning back the clock in the airline business and wishing easyjet and Ryanair would go away will not solve their problems. The strike should be called off before it turns really bad. BA's brand is suffering and their rivals are gaining by the actions of BA staff.
BA is in a bad way long-term. They have a top management team in Willie Walsh and his crew, but the mountain they face is huge; I could not buy the shares at 196p.