British Airways Avoids Strike But Expects Disruptions

British Airways said on Monday a 48-hour strike by cabin crew members of its largest union had been cancelled, although it still expected disruptions for thousands of passengers this week.

"Negotiations with the T&G (union) have resulted in an agreement that removes the threat of strikes," Chief Executive Willie Walsh said in a statement, adding the company would
reinstate as many cancelled flights as possible.

"Unfortunately, the decision has come too late to prevent disruption to the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday," Walsh said.

Last week, the Transport and General Workers' Union (T&G) called a 48-hour strike by cabin crew from Tuesday unless there was agreement on issues which include sick-leave policy and pay. The T&G threatened two further 72-hour strikes in February.

As a result, last Thursday BA cancelled 1,300 flights scheduled for this week. BA said it would provide more details of reinstated flights later on Monday.

BA's stock rose on the news. Earlier, UBS analyst Tim Marshall boosted his target price for BA to 650 pence from 600 pence while maintaining a "Buy" rating, noting in a research note that strikes have offered
buying opportunities in BA stock in the past.

The dispute with the union centres around BA's sick-leave policy and its two pay scales for cabin staff.

BA says cabin crew were taking an average of 22 sick days per year before Walsh took charge in October 2005 and that under a new absence policy the figure had fallen to 12 days.

Some 10,500 of BA's approximately 15,000 cabin crew are members of the T&G. The airline has urged customers to check the ba.com Web site for information.

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