Joined: 07 January 2007
By Deborah Haynes and Jason Neely
LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways cancelled some 1,300 flights next week after a breakdown in talks with its largest union pointed to a threatened 48-hour strike by cabin crew going ahead.
Cancellations would affect more than 140,000 passengers and involve most flights to and from Heathrow and Gatwick airports, with further disruption before and afterwards.
BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said the airline was "bitterly disappointed" the union had rejected a solution on pay "out of hand".
"It has chosen instead to confirm a 48-hour stoppage for next week that will wreck the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of customers," he said.
Flights will be disrupted on Tuesday, January 30 and Wednesday, January 31.
The strikes would be the third major disruption to BA's passengers after last August's security scare over liquids in cabins and the wave of cancellations and lost luggage caused by fog at Heathrow before Christmas.
BA said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange: "The airline remains committed to pursuit of a negotiated settlement before next Tuesday but wants customers to have early warning of its flying schedule.
The Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) has threatened two further 72-hour strikes in February unless there is agreement on issues which include sick-leave policy and pay.
The union said it was "dismayed and saddened" that BA "failed to hear the voice of common sense". It had cancelled the first day of the planned three-day strike on Wednesday as a "goodwill gesture".
Jack Dromey, deputy-general secretary of the T&G, said: "After just over one hundred hours of talks and the postponement of the first day of the strike, BA had squandered the opportunity it had been given.
About 10,500 of BA's approximately 15,000 cabin crew are members of the T&G.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are being urged not to travel to the airports.
The airline said customers should check the ba.com Web site for information, or phone 0800 727 800.
Other flights which are not expected to be affected include those on subsidiary BA Connect, on franchise partners GB Airways, BMED, Loganair and Sun Air, and those flown by other carriers using a BA codeshare flight number.
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