Image: Union members
Alastair Grant  /  AP
Unite union members wave their flags as a British Airways plane takes off during a rally near London's Heathrow Airport on Wednesday.
updated 5/27/2010 4:55:50 PM ET 2010-05-27T20:55:50

British Airways and labor union leaders' most recent round of talks did not lead to a deal over disputes that have led to a cabin crew strike that has grounded hundreds of flights from London's Heathrow airport.

Those talks concluded Wednesday. Negotiations were to resume Friday between the airline and the Unite union on disputed changes to pay and working conditions. A five-day walkout began Monday.

BA flights from London's Heathrow airport, Europe's busiest travel hub, have been badly disrupted and a series of further strikes is planned over the coming weeks.

Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, said before Wednesday's talks began that it would "not be easy" to reach a settlement.

The current strike is scheduled to end late Friday, but a new five-day walkout is due to begin Sunday.

BA said it would operate more flights during the next walkout, as fewer staff than expected have joined the walkouts. Flights from London Gatwick and London City airports are operating as normal, the airline said.

The airline said it planned to fly more than 75 percent of customers who hold a booking between May 30 and June 3, compared to the 70 percent of passengers it targeted during the current walkout.

It aims to operate around 70 percent of long-haul flights and 55 percent of short-haul flights from Heathrow, up from 60 percent and 50 percent respectively this week.

"This equates to around 65,000 customers flying each day," the airline said in a statement.

Unite, which represents about 90 percent of BA's 12,000 cabin crew staff, and the airline were holding talks at an undisclosed location. The two sides had been in talks before the current walkout, but they were abandoned after they were gatecrashed by members of the Socialist Workers Party.

Woodley has previously accused BA of having a "petty, vindictive" attitude after it revoked strikers' low-cost travel — a cherished cabin-crew perk — and took disciplinary action against striking workers.

BA has said it has made a "very fair" offer to workers and the disputed changes, including fewer staff on long-haul flights, are necessary for the airline to cope with reduced demand for air travel in the wake of the financial crisis.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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