By Jason Theodorou

British Airways is set to begin new talks with Unite, in an effort to resolve a long-running conflict with cabin crew. The concessionary measure comes shortly after BA revealed that the Icelandic ash cloud and 22 days of strikes had cost the airline £250 million in the first three months of the year.

Members of the Unite union refused to accept a 'final' offer from the airline last month, and BA has said that any agreement would still need to be based around this offer.

Unite joint general secretary Derek Simpson argued that the airline was 'maintaining the dispute'. BA chief executive Willie Walsh said 'We are not tabling any new offer, but the existing offer is still on the table'.

BA is expected to train volunteer cabin crew to compensate for any further walkouts, and the airline is prepared to run long-haul flights in event of further strikes.

Mr. Simpson said that Unite wanted BA to 'thrive' in a way that fairly rewarded cabin crew. Last week BA announced a pre-tax loss of £164 million for the months from April to June.

BA has agreed to a 2.9% pay increase for next year, and 3% for 2011. Staff are believed to be happy with the increase in pay, but dissatisfied with BA's decision to only partly reinstate travel concessions for staff who participated in previous strikes.

Any further strikes are expected to occur in September this year.


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