Virgin and BA hold 'amicable' talks

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VIRGIN ATLANTIC and British Airways are to hold further discussions aimed at settling their differences after an opening round of 'amicable and constructive' talks yesterday between Richard Branson and Sir Colin Marshall, BA's chief executive.

Following a 75-minute meeting at Mr Branson's Holland Park headquarters in west London, the two airlines issued a joint statement saying that 'detailed discussions' would take place in the next few weeks regarding Virgin's demand for compensation over the dirty tricks campaign waged by BA. Sir Colin and Mr Branson will also meet again.

Sir Colin said the discussions had been 'very friendly and very useful' while Mr Branson described them as a 'good first step', adding: 'Where there's a will there's a way.' Relations between the two airlines, he added, were a great deal warmer than two weeks ago, when BA and its chairman, Lord King, apologised to Mr Branson and Virgin in the High Court and paid them pounds 610,000 damages.

Although neither side would comment on the content of yesterday's talks, they are believed to have centred on Virgin's desire for more take-off and landing slots at Heathrow to enable it to launch new transatlantic and long-haul services.

Virgin's request for financial compensation for the 'serious commercial damage' it says was done by the BA campaign is also thought to have been raised.

It is thought that Virgin will give the talks two weeks to produce a satisfactory offer from BA before deciding whether to take further action in the US courts or through the European Commission.

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