‘British Airways pilot talks break down,’ says union

Simon Calder

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) says that conciliation talks with British Airways have broken down.

Pilots working for BA are being balloted by Balpa about a strike over pay. As the pilots vote, their union has been in talks with the airline at the conciliation service, Acas, for two days.

Balpa’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “It is bitterly disappointing that despite two full days at Acas we are still no further forward. Balpa tabled options for resolution but BA was not prepared to negotiate so there was no progress at all and no point continuing.

“Until BA changes its attitude there is little prospect of talks resuming.”

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We are disappointed that Balpa has walked away from conciliation with Acas this evening.

“We remain open and flexible to find a solution to protect hard-working families looking forward to their summer breaks.”

The Independent understands that talks are not believed to have broken down irrevocably, and could start again in the next few days.

British Airways says it is offering 11.5 per cent over three years, well above the rate of inflation, and that the number of job applications from pilots from other airlines – running at 1,000 per year – indicates how well its pilots are treated.

But Mr Strutton, said: “BA has been enormously profitable, and the employees should have a fair share of that success which, after all, they produce for the company.”

All but around 500 of the airline’s 4,500 pilots belong to Balpa.

The strike ballot closes on 22 July. If pilots vote in favour of industrial action, the earliest that a stoppage could begin is 5 August.

At present the airline is insisting normal terms and conditions apply for anyone who wants to change or cancel their flight. Were a strike to be called, it is likely that BA would allow some flexibility to passengers.