More strikes on the cards as BA crew talks break down

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The Independent Online

Talks aimed at resolving the long-running dispute between British Airways and its cabin crew ended without agreement yesterday.

The conciliation service Acas held separate talks with the airline and the Unite union after tabling proposals for a "potential way forward" in an attempt to break the deadlock.

A spokesman for Acas said: "Regrettably, the parties were unable to move closer to an agreement. At present, there are no further meetings planned but Acas will monitor developments and our services remain available."

BA flight attendants have held 22 days of strikes since March and are threatening further industrial action if the row is not resolved. The strikes have cost the airline well over £150m and it has revealed that passenger numbers were 14.2 per cent lower in May, at 2.3 million, than they were a year ago. Unite estimates that the long-term damage to BA's reputation could cost the airline about £1.4bn.

An agreement has been reached in principle over the original cause of the dispute – cost-cutting – but the two sides are still at loggerheads over the removal of travel perks from cabin crew members who have been on strike. Unite has urged BA to fully restore the concessions, arguing that it would not cost the airline any money.

Unite has pledged to hold a fresh ballot for industrial action in July if no deal is reached soon, raising the threat of disruption to flights over the busy summer months.

A spokesman for Unite said last night: "Unite remains committed to finding a settlement which addresses its members' concerns. We remain in touch with Acas and with British Airways to that end."