Pilots represented by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) at British Airways are to be balloted on a new restructuring and redundancy agreement.

The deal has been reached after three months of negotiations.

British Airways had proposed to make up to 1,255 pilots redundant, while changing the terms and conditions of those that remain in response to a travel downturn following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new Balpa package involves pilots taking up some part-time working, severance and external secondments.

There will also be a pool of 300 pilots employed on reduced pay ready to return to flying if demand picks up.

The measures are funded by pilot pay cuts starting at 20 per cent, reducing to eight per cent over the next two years, then further reducing toward zero over the longer term.

Under the terms of the deal, some 270 pilots will still be made redundant.

Balpa is recommending its 4,300 pilot members at British Airways accept these proposals as the “best that can be achieved” in the circumstances.

Brian Strutton, Balpa general secretary, said: “It is hugely disappointing that during our extensive negotiations British Airways would not accept the full package of mitigations we put forward which would have avoided any job losses at all, and at no cost to the airline.

“As a result there will be some compulsory redundancies among the pilot community and that is a matter of huge regret.”

The ballot of BA pilots will close next Thursday.

Stephen Gunning, chief financial officer with British Airways-owner International Airlines Group, said: “International Airlines Group welcomed an announcement by British Airways’ pilots’ union Balpa that it intends to hold a consultative ballot of its members in relation to the proposed restructuring and redundancy agreement reached between the union and the airline.

“This is in response to the Covid-19 crisis affecting the aviation industry.”