A third strike this month by Thomas Cook Airlines pilots planned for Friday has been suspended – but with a threat that the industrial action may be stepped up next month.

The British Airline Pilots Association warned that strikes could take place over eight days in October.

The union said it was consulting its members on the way forward in Thomas Cook dispute over pay and conditions.

General secretary Brian Strutton said: “Balpa has suspended the strike plan for Friday while we consult with members on escalating the strikes to eight days in October.

“Alternatively, there is the option of arbitration, but at the moment Thomas Cook has not indicated they would be prepared to accept this as a means of resolving their dispute with their pilots.”

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “Following talks between Balpa and Thomas Cook this week, Balpa has called off the strike scheduled for this Friday 29 September.

“Balpa is now consulting its members on a plan to go to arbitration.

“Thomas Cook remains keen to resolve this dispute in the interest of all those involved. We await the response of Balpa’s members.”