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British Airways, union in last-minute strike talks

By CNN Staff
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Efforts to avert a BA strike
  • Union may strike for three days on March 20; four more days on March 27
  • Two sides to meet early Friday in last-minute talks
  • BA chief: Contingency plan will hopefully allow 60 percent of customers to fly

London, England (CNN) -- British Airways and the union representing its cabin crews planned to resume talks early Friday aimed at avoiding two consecutive weekend strikes.

BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh left the talks in central London late Thursday, after they had gone on longer than expected.

"We've adjourned overnight, so we'll be meeting again tomorrow morning," he told CNN's Jim Boulden.

Asked whether he was hopeful of a resolution, Walsh said: "Well, I can tell you this -- we'll be flying on Saturday."

iReport: Are you caught up in the strike?

Video: BA crew split on strike

Members of the Unite union voted to strike for three days beginning at midnight Friday, and for four more days beginning March 27.

Will a strike by British Airways affect you?

The airline has unveiled an ambitious contingency plan to allow as many passengers as possible to travel. Through leasing aircraft and using replacement workers, Walsh has said BA hopes around 60 percent of its customers will be able to fly as planned during the strikes.

The industrial action is over planned changes to cabin crew conditions, which British Airways says will save the carrier more than 60 million pounds ($90 million) a year. Unite has said the plans call for working hours to be extended and crew levels to be cut, changes that it has said will damage customer service and the BA brand.

The airline's management submitted a formal offer to the union last week, Unite said, noting the offer failed to address union concerns about crew numbers and service delivery. That prompted Unite officials to announce the strike dates.