The pilots’ union is urging its 4,300 members at British Airways to accept a deal which will see about 270 compulsory redundancies.

In April, the airline had proposed to make up to 1,255 pilots redundant and to change terms and conditions with a controversial ‘fire and rehire’ policy.

After nearly three months of negotiations, the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) is now recommending its members accept new proposals “as the best that can be achieved in these incredibly difficult circumstances”.

It said in a statement on Wednesday: “BA pilots are devastated at the prospect of around 270 compulsory redundancies although we expect this number will fall further as voluntary mitigation measures continue to be taken up.”

The plans include pilot pay cuts starting at 20% and reducing to 8% over the next two years then further reducing toward zero over the longer term.

There will also be voluntary part-time working, voluntary severance, voluntary external secondments – but no ‘fire and rehire’ policy.

A ‘holding pool’ of the equivalent of 300 pilots will be employed on reduced pay ready to return to flying as demand picks up.

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 BA.

“As a result there will be some compulsory redundancies amongst the pilot community and that is a matter of huge regret. Given BA’s intransigence we have put together the best package we can to save as many jobs as possible.”

The ballot of BA pilots will close on July 30.

BA parent International Airlines Group (IAG) said in a statement on Thursday: “International Airlines Group welcomed last night’s 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.”

The Telegraph reported that attention will now move to the fate of cabin and ground crew, whose unions Unite and GMB “remain at loggerheads over job cuts and changes to working conditions”.