Negotiations aimed at resolving the British Airways cabin crew dispute have been adjourned till tomorrow.
The airline’s chief executive Willie Walsh met leaders of Unite, the union representing cabin crew, last night in a renewed bid to reach a settlement. The talks at a secret location lasted for six hours and are expected to resume on Friday.
The first wave of three five-day strikes enters its fourth day today. Barring a breakthrough, the next round will start on Sunday and last until June 9.
Hundreds of flights have been grounded since Monday, including a total of 246 flights in and out of Heathrow yesterday, and over 200 on Tuesday.
Each side remained outwardly defiant before the negotiations. Beforehand, Unite’s joint leaders, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, lambasted Walsh during an address to a crowd of picketing cabin crew near Heathrow.
They repeated an earlier offer to suspend the strikes if Mr Walsh reinstated travel concessions he withdrew from staff who walk out in March over the original cause of the dispute - reduced crew levels on long-haul flights.
Woodley said: “The offer is on the table this afternoon. He [Walsh] can have this strike suspended right now if he returns your travel concessions without loss of seniority.”
Walsh has offered to restore travel perks but only if striking crew are treated as new recruits, which would give non-striking employees better access to the prized discounted travel for BA staff.
Previous negotiations between the two sides broke down over the weekend after protesters from the Socialist Workers Party stormed the building they were in. As a result, the location of the current round of talks is being kept secret.
Mr Woodley said Saturday’s meeting was the first time that he had “genuinely thought there was a bit of effort going in to settle this”.
As well as the new talks, BA has warned it is planning for a full hearing on the legality of the strike, despite a court ruling in favour of Unite last week.