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British Airways’ Pilots Extend an Olive Branch That Could End the Strike

The labor union representing British Airways flight crews announced today that plans for a two-day walkout scheduled to occur in less than a week could be scrapped if airline officials agree to return to negotiations. The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) notified CEO Alex Cruz, however, that the labor action will go ahead as promised if contract talks do not resume.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) announced on Thursday that a walkout scheduled for September 9th and 10th could be called off if the company agrees to restart contract negotiations. Union officials made the offer in a written proposition to British Airways CEO Alex Cruz. Labor leaders say the planned walkout will go ahead as scheduled if the airline refuses to return to the negotiating table.

“Our members’ resolve is very strong and they remain very angry with BA, but they also want to leave no stone unturned in trying to find a resolution to their dispute,” BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said in a statement extending the olive branch.  “Avoiding strike action and agreeing a deal with their pilots surely must be the desired outcome for British Airways. We urge BA to join us to discuss the new proposal – which shows pilots are willing to be flexible but still stand united in getting a better deal.”

In a public response to the union’s overture, British Airways updated the passenger alert warning of a possible strike. On Thursday, the carrier added specific language hinting that it would indeed entertain a return to negotiations.

“We continue to be available for constructive talks with BALPA, on the basis that there are no pre-conditions to those talks,” according to the latest, much more amenable wording.

Although British Airways has not responded directly to this latest offer from the BALPA, the company has previously indicated that its last, best offer is already on the table. The UK flag carrier is offering full refunds and waiving change fees for flights booked on the dates of the scheduled industrial action.

“It is completely unacceptable that BALPA is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action. BALPA has given us notice that they will strike on September 9th, 10th and 27th,” the airline said in an August 23rd release. “We are extremely sorry that after many months of negotiations, based on a very fair offer, BALPA has decided on this reckless course of action … Our proposed deal of 11.5 percent over three years is very fair and well above the UK’s current rate of inflation, and by contrast to BALPA, has been accepted by the members of the Unite and GMB trade unions, which represent nearly 90 per cent of all British Airways colleagues including engineers, cabin crew and ground staff. In addition to basic pay, pilots also receive annual pay increments and regular flying allowances.”

[Featured Image: British Airways]

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