Virgin and BA dispute deal

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The Independent Online
Virgin Atlantic last night denied a British Airways claim that Virgin had agreed to make a net payment of £385,000 to BA in settlement of the dispute between the two airlines over alleged "dirty tricks".

Virgin's denial followed an announcement from BA last night that the dispute had been settled with an agreement to exchange payments.

BA said it had agreed to pay Virgin £265,000 to settle a dispute over computer access, along with £100,000 towards Virgin's legal costs. It said that Virgin would pay BA's legal costs, which have been estimated at £750,000.

A spokesman for Virgin acknowledged that it had accepted £265,000 from BA to settle the High Court action, but denied an agreement had been reached on Virgin's payment to BA. "It is complete rubbish that the amount to be paid in costs has been agreed," he said.

Last night's announcement concerned only the dispute between the airlines in the UK, where BA said Virgin had originally claimed £29m as compensation for alleged dirty tricks carried out by BA.

The announcement did not affect Virgin's action against BA in the US, where court hearings were due to begin next month. Virgin is claiming damages from BA in the US of $325m, but any award could be much higher.

Robert Ayling, BA's group managing director, said that the agreement between the airlines closed the issue of the "dirty tricks" allegations.

"There is no dirty tricks claim before the US court," he said. "That is an anti-trust case involving questions of markets, competition with transatlantic carriers, issues of national and international aviation policy and the inter-governmental agreements which cover them."

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