LONDON: British Airways (BA) is facing the threat of a strike action after angry workers protested on Wednesday against the airline's plans to cut 1,700 jobs and freeze pay in order to stem losses.

"This inevitably brings a strike closer. We have been working flat out to find a negotiated solution with this company but they are clearly not interested in compromise, preferring conflict instead," a senior union leader told the Press Association.

"They are holding a gun to the heads of our members. We will not stand by while they push fewer and fewer people to do more and more work on less pay and turn our premier airline into a low-cost operator," he added.

The cuts will reduce the total number of cabin crew-related jobs from 14,000 to 12,300, it said, noting that the move involves cabin crew managers rather than cabin crew themselves.

"These changes will take place from the end of November. They will not .. reduce the number of working crew on board," said a BA statement of the job cuts.

British Airways "is currently not profitable and we expect to record a significant loss for the second consecutive year the first time that has happened in our history," it added.

"Revenues are down, so we must reduce costs to restore profitability. Thousands of staff across the airline have already made contributions to the cost-reduction programme.

"We have been talking to the cabin crew unions since the start of the year, but have made little progress on the contribution they might make," the company added.

BA last month launched its inaugural all-business class service from London to New York as it seeks to claw back ground lost to rival Virgin Atlantic and succeed where others failed.

Loss-making BA is seeking to get back on track amid a severe economic downturn that has slashed demand for air travel. However, in contrast to BA, rival Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed an upturn in premium business travel.