Ballot to "open imminently"
Unite the union is set to ballot its BA cabin staff members on strike action, with preparations for the vote in the advanced stages.
"The ballot will open imminently," said a Unite spokesperson.
The vote will be complete by December 14, leaving open the threat of strike action during the festive period.
The results of the ballot will be announced at a mass meeting to be held on December 14 at Sandown Park racecourse in Surrey.
Derek Simpson, Unite's joint general secretary, said: "BA management's determination to impose unacceptable contractual changes on cabin crew leaves us no alternative."
BA said it was disappointed by the decision to hold a ballot, but stressed the changes to staff contracts will go ahead as planned from November 16.
BA cabin crew met yesterday (November 2) at Sandown Park to discuss the possibility of strike action, at a meeting called by Unite. The union estimated that almost 3,000 people attended.
A Unite spokesperson told ABTN: "We were feeding back to our members why the negotiations with the company [BA] had failed, what our remaining points of concern were, to hear their concerns about the imposition on the 16th of November, to update them about the high court injunction we're seeking against the company on November 5, and to alert them to the fact that they would be ballotted."
Unite has also announced plans to launch a legal challenge against BA.
It said: "The challenge, in the High Court, is over the imposition of new contracts, including the reduction of crewing levels, which BA said it will force cabin crew to work to from 16 November."
The High Court hearing is currently set for this Thursday (November 5).
BA has reported losses of £401m for last year and is expected to announce further losses for the second quarter on Friday (November 6).
The carrier said it is fighting for survival in what it has called the worst downturn in aviation history.
The airline has been in talks with Unite and another union, GMB, for several months, after announcing plans to make the equivalent of 1,700 staff redundant.
The cuts to the number of cabin crew on each plane have allowed the airline to accept a large number of requests for voluntary redundancy, part-time contracts and staff transfers between different parts of the business, it said.
BA also wants to impose a two year wage freeze on staff and change working practices.
This includes cutting staff on long hauls flights from 15 to 14, a change the airline plans to impose on November 16.
Unite said the changes would involve significant contractual changes for remaining employees and introduce "a second tier workforce on poorer pay and conditions".
BA said in a statement: "We have put together a package of changes, which despite the unprecedented financial circumstances facing the company, not only protects current cabin crew but also offers many new benefits.
"We have made it clear that there will be no change to the individual terms and conditions of our current crew. They will not take a pay cut. In fact some 75% of crew will receive a pay scale increase worth between two and seven per cent this year and again next year."
The airline's proposed new salaries for new cabin crew recruits will be ahead of the market rate, it added.