March 29, 2010 / 9:14 AM / 8 years ago

BA strikes enter third day

LONDON (Reuters) - A strike by British Airways cabin crew entered its third day on Monday, with more walkouts threatened for next month, as separate talks to avert the first national rail strike in 16 years got under way.

<p>British Airways' B777 passenger jet at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada October 25, 2009. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus</p>

More than 120 BA flights from London’s Heathrow airport were cancelled on Monday, according to the BA website, but all flights to and from London City and London Gatwick airport were operating normally.

The walkout by BA cabin crew is the second this month in a dispute over changes to working practices which has cost the airline millions of pounds and damaged its reputation.

The Unite union, which represents about 90 percent of BA’s 12,000 cabin crew, has threatened to call a third wave of industrial action after Easter if no progress is made, with crews likely to walk out again on April 14.

Both sides said they remained available for negotiations, but no dates were set for talks.

A BA spokesman said the airline was still on track to deliver its target of flying more than 75 percent of customers, adding that its service had been “significantly more extensive” during this strike period than the last, due to higher numbers of cabin crew reporting for work.

But Unite claimed BA was trying to run its service with only around 15 percent of cabin crew who should be working normally. BA, which wants to save an annual 62.5 million pounds to help cope with falling demand, volatile fuel prices and greater competition, said the last strike period cost the airline 7 million pounds a day.

Rail unions RMT and TSSA announced last week they would walkout from April 6 over planned job cuts and changes to working practices at Network Rail.

Talks between the unions and Network Rail, which began on Friday in an attempt to avert the walkout, continued on Monday, a spokesman for Network Rail said.

In an open letter posted on the Network Rail website, chief executive Iain Coucher apologised to customers.

“I am doing all I can to negotiate an end to the disputes to avoid a strike,” he said. “The way in which this strike has been called ... is designed to maximise the impact on passengers and so I regret that on many lines, there will be considerable disruption.”

Editing by Steve Addison

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