BA cabin crew approve deal: union

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British Airways cabin crew have overwhelmingly backed an agreement to end a long-running dispute with the airline, the Unite union said Wednesday.

Unite said there was a 92 percent vote in favour of the deal and eight percent against, with a turnout of 72 percent of the nearly 10,000 members who were balloted.

The airline said it was "delighted" that the dispute, which lasted nearly two years, was over. Strikes sparked by the row cost BA £150 million ($250 million, 170 million euros) in 2010.

Under the agreement finalised in May, BA agreed to restore travel concessions to staff who went on strike -- the issue at the heart of the row -- and to award some employees top-up payments.

"Unite always firmly believed that this dispute would be solved not through conflict but through negotiation. Thankfully we have reached an honourable agreement with BA," said Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey.

"The overwhelming acceptance of this deal by cabin crew means that both parties can now move forward together on securing a bright future for the airline."

He paid a "personal tribute to the cabin crew for the principled stand they took," saying it came at "great personal expense and emotional cost."

BA also paid tribute to the cabin crew as it welcomed the union vote.

"The skills and professionalism of British Airways cabin crew are second to none, and we are delighted this dispute is behind us," a spokesman said.

"We have made permanent structural savings to our business, which is now ready to invest £5.5 billion over the next five years for the benefit of our customers."

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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