Agreement reached in British Airways dispute

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An agreement has been reached to end the long-running dispute between British Airways and its cabin crew, the Unite union and the airline said Thursday.

The agreement will now be put to a postal ballot of about 10,000 union members, who are expected to accept the deal.

Unite said that under the deal, BA will agree to restore travel concessions to staff who went on strike -- the issue at the heart of the dispute -- and to award some employees top-up payments.

Strikes sparked by the dispute, which has last nearly two years, cost British Airways 150 million pounds ($250 million, 170 million euros) in 2010.

Unite leader Len McCluskey said: "We are recommending this deal because we believe it is an honourable settlement.

"If we embrace this we are confident that the future will look good."

A BA spokesman said: "On behalf of our customers, we are very pleased the threat of industrial action has been lifted and that we have reached a point where we can put this dispute behind us.

"Our agreement with Unite involves acknowledgement by the union that the cost-saving structural changes we have made in cabin crew operations are permanent."

The result of the union ballot should be known by June.

Earlier this year, BA merged with Spanish carrier Iberia to create International Airlines Group, although both groups retain their operations and individual brands.

The merger created Europe's second biggest airline by market value behind Lufthansa of Germany.

© 2011 AFP

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