British Airways requests talks deadline extension, attempts to avert strike


LONDON – Unite is considering British Airways PLC’s request to extend the deadline by when talks must conclude, in the airline's last minute attempt to avert a strike, a spokeswoman for the trade union that represents BA cabin crew said Tuesday.

The two sides had agreed earlier to a 1700 GMT deadline on Tuesday. The request for an extension into Wednesday comes after the union tabled proposals that include a pay cut in basic salary totaling about GBP7 million a year. A pay freeze is already in place and saves the airline some GBP2 million a year, Unite’s spokeswoman added.

eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:

In February, cabin crew voted to strike for a second time after their first attempt at industrial action over the Christmas period was blocked by the U.K. High Court.

The two sides have been battling for 12 months over how to save the loss-making airline money, which led BA to reduce cabin crew Nov. 16 on long-haul flights from London's Heathrow Airport to 14 personnel from 15 without union support.

Last month, the High Court ruled that those changes weren't a breach of contract, meaning BA won't be forced to pay damages to affected staff or revert back to previous working practices.

It has until March 15 to notify BA of a strike. A strike must start no later than March 22.

A spokesman for British Airways declined to comment.