BA and Balpa to hold talks after OpenSkies strike vote

British Airways and pilots’ union Balpa will begin a week of conciliation talks on Monday following an overwhelming vote for a strike over BA’s plans to launch a subsidiary, OpenSkies, operating between Continental Europe and the US.

Strikes will go ahead next month if there is no agreement, with the union planning to give seven days’ notice of the dates on March 10.

The timetable is determined by legislation that requires a strike to be within four weeks of a ballot.

OpenSkies will start flying between New York and Paris or Brussels in June. BA says it wants a separate workforce for OpenSkies, but Balpa insists on one pilot group.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh said: “We are confident a settlement can be achieved.”

A Balpa spokesman said: “It’s a question of how much BA will give.”

Almost eight out of 10 BA pilots voted to strike – given an 86% vote in favour on a turnout of 90% – a result the union called “staggering”.

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