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Talks planned to avert British Airways strike

Weekend meetings will continue today

LONDON -- Last-minute talks aimed at averting a 48-hour strike by thousands of British Airways PLC cabin crew members will continue today after unions were unable to reach an agreement in weekend talks.

Whatever the outcome regarding the planned strike tomorrow and Wednesday, the airline already has canceled 1,300 flights to and from London airports, including Heathrow and Gatwick, to allow its customers time to make alternative travel arrangements.

The Transport and General Workers Union has proposed other walkouts Feb. 5-7 and Feb. 12-14 if the dispute, which centers on pay and sick-leave policy, is not resolved.

Analysts said the strike action could cost the airline between $20 million and $30 million a day.

The airline's chief executive, Willie Walsh, was leading the company's negotiators during a meeting yesterday at an undisclosed location with union officials, including its general secretary, Tony Woodley.

Neither side commented about daylong talks that took place Saturday and yesterday. Officials said talks would resume today.

The union represents about 11,000 of the airline's 14,000 cabin crew members.

In an effort to persuade some workers to ignore the strike, British Airways was offering to allow them to report to work in civilian clothes and arrive in taxis paid for by British Airways.

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