British Airways (BA) pilots are threatening to strike over a dispute about job opportunities with its new OpenSkies firm.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) plans to ballot its members, which include nearly all of BA's 3,200, on whether to strike after BA refused to allow "open access to jobs".
It fears BA aims to "start an outsourcing programme that will eventually force down BA pilot conditions" by establishing a subsidiary which pays its pilots less.
"We believe there should be one pilot body for BA and its subsidiary so that there can be fair promotion opportunities, a cohesion of the pilot force which is so important in a safety critical industry and a safeguarding of BA's brand," Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said.
He argued OpenSkies should not be separated from the rest of the airline, saying "a brand is more than a tailfin".
"It is about its people and the BA pilot community is making a stand to protect that brand. This is a line in the sand," he added.
Mr McAuslan made clear the strike action was unrelated to Thursday's events at London's Heathrow airport, where a BA flight's engines failed and the passenger aircraft slid 1,000ft before reaching the edge of the concrete runway.
The Boeing 777-236 was moved from the crash site yesterday 500m to BA's engineering base at Hatton Cross.
BA pilots last resorted to industrial action in 1980.