British Airways has brought a clinical psychologist to the negotiating table as it tries to fend off further strike action by its cabin crew. Last month, Unite union members voted in favour of further industrial action if a satisfactory deal was not forthcoming from the airline. The latest ballot was the fourth time crew have declared a wish to walk out in the last 18 months.

Last year there were 22 days of disruption, but BA claims it has contingency plans which will mean nearly all of its services will continue to run in the face of more strikes. The union must tell BA by the weekend whether the industrial action is to go ahead and then give at least 7 days warning.

If a walk out is decided upon then the busy Easter weekend could be affected. However, airline industry experts believe a deal could be imminent because former BA chief executive, Willie Walsh, is no longer involved. He was replaced at the beginning of the year by Keith Williams who many believe will be less hard-headed when it comes to dealing with the unions.

Mr Williams has already told workers that he wants a good relationship with them. A spokesman for the airline confirmed that an independent facilitator had been brought in to try and improve the working relationship between the flag-carrier, Unite and representatives of the cabin crew.

Mark Hamlin, a drama teacher turned psychologist, said he had met with BA and Unite and hoped that there would soon be an end to the dispute.