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BA, union to hold strike talks

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Talks will be ahead of two planned strikes
  • Talks last weekend appeared to center on travel perks
  • BA chief executive threatened to revoke perks

London, England (CNN) -- British Airways and the union representing its cabin crews will hold talks Friday morning ahead of two planned strikes in coming weeks, a spokeswoman for the group mediating the talks said.

The spokeswoman would not reveal the time or place of the talks because of an incident last weekend, when protesters from the Socialist Workers Party stormed the building and forced talks to break up.

A five-day strike by the Unite union over pay and working conditions is set to end at midnight (7 p.m. ET) Friday. They plan to strike for five more days from May 30 and another five days from June 5.

British Airways said it has managed to fly more than half of its scheduled flights during the strike as a result of leasing planes and pilots, and putting passengers on other airlines.

Some Union members also crossed picket lines and decided to work this week, BA said, enabling the airline to expand its planned schedule for the second strike next week.

BA will operate more than 70 percent of its long-haul flights from its main hub at Heathrow airport next week, up from more than 60 percent this week, and more than 55 percent of its short-haul flights from Heathrow, up from more than 50 percent this week, it said.

"Due to the numbers of crew wanting to work normally at Gatwick, all flights will continue to operate as scheduled" during next week's strike, BA said.

The airline said it expects to fly more than 75 percent of its customers who already have reservations during the next strike, which runs from Sunday to June 3.

Talks last weekend appeared to center on the issue of travel perks, which can include free and heavily discounted travel for cabin crew.

BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh threatened to revoke the perks from any crew members who went on strike in March. Unite said Thursday that some 3,000 crew members lost their travel concessions as a result, and the union has said it wants the benefits reinstated.