British Airways, BALPA and OpenSkies – all turns nasty

Talks to settle the dispute over terms and conditions for pilots at British Airways’ planned OpenSkies subsidiary have broken down say BALPA. And there’s been an outbreak of utter poison over at Pprune which we can all only hope is not representative of the wider reality.Here’s the BA statement: They’re off to court.

We are disappointed that BALPA has chosen to walk away from the talks led by the conciliation service, ACAS. We believe the opportunity remains to reach a peaceful resolution and lift the threat of strikes from our customers.

During the talks we made a number of offers to BALPA that we still believe could resolve the differences between us. We are proud of the professionalism and high reputation of our pilots. We do not want a conflict with them and have not sought one.

We have offered binding assurances that OpenSkies will pose no threat to the terms, conditions and job security of British Airways pilots. Prospects for BA flight crew have never been better. Our plans for expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick mean we will be recruiting more than 300 new BA pilots in the next two years, as the London-based fleet grows to more than 240 aircraft.

Our offer also included making available to BA pilots 50 per cent of flight crew vacancies for the six aircraft currently planned to go into the new airline, while protecting job security and career progression in BA.

OpenSkies is a new airline in a highly competitive market from Continental Europe to the US, and the terms and conditions for its staff must reflect that. BALPA says that terms and conditions for OpenSkies pilots must match those at BA as soon as the airline becomes profitable. This would generate cost and complexity that the new carrier could not sustain. OpenSkies would not be viable – restricting our ability as a company to compete by setting up a European business and putting at risk the creation of 350 new jobs.

We felt it right and fair to give BALPA private notice that we have a valid legal claim against them before they took the disproportionate step of calling a strike. If strike dates are issued, we will act to protect our customers by applying for an injunction.

We must act to protect our customers and explore every option to prevent the massive disruption a strike would cause.

We have made ourselves available to talk with BALPA at any time in order to find a peaceful solution.

Ends

March 07, 2008

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