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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
BA looks to American Airlines tie
British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh
Willie Walsh is to consult workers over possible pension changes
British Airways is hoping to reopen talks with US carrier American Airlines about creating a closer working relationship between the two.

BA's new chief executive Willie Walsh said greater co-operation on areas such as ticket pricing and flight scheduling would benefit customers.

Mr Walsh told the BBC it would create a better selection of flights - spread out through the day - than at present.

"We would also be able to offer better connections to US cities," he said.

The carriers already have close ties as both are members of the Oneworld airline alliance.

Previous efforts to create closer links- in early 2002 - were hit by US regulators, who said BA and American would have to give up 254 take-off and landing slots at Heathrow in exchange for immunity from anti-trust action.

"The price of giving up slots was too high," Mr Walsh said.

Pension shake-up

The new BA chief is also starting a series of consultations with workers over BA's 1.4bn final salary pension scheme deficit.

He has started a three-month exercise with staff - called Time to Talk - setting out the situation and explaining a number of options the airline is considering.

"The deficit is not going away, that is something that everyone at BA needs to take a long-term interest in," he said.

Some possible options thought to be under consideration include asking staff to increase how much they pay into the fund or increasing the retirement age.

Another option could include cutting the rate at which people accrue benefits, such as making final payouts based on a different proportion of their salary.

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