British Airways said it would resume talks later on Friday with the union representing striking cabin crew in an attempt to avert a further 10 days of industrial action planned by staff over the coming weeks.
“We expect talks will resume today and hope that a peaceful resolution can be found,” a BA spokesman said.
Cabin attendants are in the final day of a five-day strike, protesting over reduced staffing levels and cuts to benefits. The stoppage follows seven days of walkouts in March, which cost BA 43 million pounds ($62 million).
Unite, which represents the bulk of the airline’s cabin crew, has threatened another 10 days of strikes if the dispute is not resolved.
A new five-day walkout is due to begin on Sunday, with a further five-day stoppage set to start on June 5.
The stoppages come at a difficult time for BA, which last week reported a second straight year of record losses and is battling a global economic downturn and industry-wide recession.
Ongoing industrial action, coupled with further disruption to flights in April caused by ash from an Icelandic volcano, could scupper BA’s hopes of avoiding a third year of losses.
Unite said it would resume talks on Wednesday in a bid to end the dispute, which it claims could cost as much as 152 million pounds if the extra ten days of stoppages go ahead.
However, the loss-making carrier said that in the event of another 5-day strike next week, its longhaul schedule at London’s Heathrow airport would be increased to more than 70 percent of flights, from 60 percent this week.
It aims to increase the shorthaul schedule at Heathrow to 55 percent of flights from 50 percent and operate a full schedule from London’s Gatwick and City airports.
BA, which flies around 90,000 passengers a day, said about a quarter of its passengers would be affected by the strikes, but that they could claim a full refund, rebook or reroute their journey.
Previous negotiations in the long-running dispute have been acrimonious. The last round of talks ended on Wednesday with little sign of a breakthrough.
BA chief executive Willie Walsh and leaders of Unite blame each other for a breakdown in communication.
The issue of travel allowances for cabin crew has become a major sticking point in the conflict. Unite had offered to postpone the strikes if travel allowances for cabin crew are reinstated.
Shares in BA, which have risen 10 percent in the last week, were 0.9 percent up at 206 pence by 0830 GMT, valuing the business at around 2.2 billion pounds.
(Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by Paul Hoskins)