BAPLA (The British Airline Pilots Association) finished talks this week with Virgin Atlantic to “discuss the way forward” but the delay in resolving the dispute over pilots’ pay – or announcing an official strike – means passengers booked on Virgin flights later this month are left unsure of whether their holiday plans will be hit or not.
If the 750 flight Virgin Atlantic crew walk out, they will have to go on strike by July 18, four weeks after the strike ballot. The timing could not be worse, in the middle of the summer season with school holidays in full fling.
If they do strike, BALPA’s pilot members who are protesting over a proposed 4% pay increase, must give Virgin Atlantic bosses seven days’ notice of any strike.
President Sir Richard Branson said in an open letter to pilots last week, “Unless BALPA withdraw[s] its threat very soon it will leave an indelible scar on the company, impact customers’ trust in us and damage the unique and friendly culture at Virgin Atlantic. “It will affect jobs and it will make it very difficult for the company to afford the current offer on the table.
Having spent the last few days reflecting deeply on this issue I believe that both management and union need to urgently work together on modernising both their relationship and communications.”
Virgin Atlantic has already been thinking about contingency plans, to continue operating part of its schedule during any possible strike, using pilots and crew hired from other carriers.
Updates to follow…