British Airways has asked the conciliation service Acas to help it reach a deal with unions over jobs cuts and a pay freeze in a bid to avoid a damaging strike.
The move came after talks between the airline and union officials ended without agreement even though the company had set a deadline of Tuesday for reaching a deal.
BA wants to cut more than 3,500 jobs and freeze pay as part of a huge cost cutting drive it says is necessary in the wake of a downturn in flights caused by the recession.
A BA spokesman said: “It has not proved possible to conclude an agreement with the trade unions on our pay and productivity discussions by the deadline of June 30.
“We have therefore asked the conciliation service Acas to facilitate any future meetings.”
Failure to reach a deal could lead to the threat of industrial action by thousands of workers over the busy summer months, which would heap more problems on BA.
Union leaders turned up for talks yesterday morning but no management from BA arrived.
Mick Rix, national official of the GMB union, said he was “bitterly disappointed” that the company did not turn up for talks yesterday morning.
But he added: “I want to make it clear that there is no formal disagreement or dispute between BA and GMB.
“We are happy to co-operate with Acas and meet with BA at any time to find an agreed way forward.”
Steve Turner, national officer of Unite, said: “We are happy to discuss a way forward with the company on their cost-cutting proposals at any time but there has been no discussion yet with us about reconvening talks through Acas.”