Virgin Atlantic faces pilot strike in July

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Virgin Atlantic faces pilot strike in July

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Jun 21, 2011

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/trave ... trike.html

Virgin Atlantic faces pilot strike
By David Millward, Transport Editor
21 Jun 2011

The call for a walk out in a long-running pay dispute received overwhelming support from members of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA).

It leaves the airline facing the threat of stoppages at the height of the holiday season. The strikes, which are due to be announced on Wednesday, are likely to take place in July.

Virgin Atlantic specialises in long-haul destinations such as the Caribbean, United States, Africa and the Far East. It carries more than 106,000 passengers a week.

Should agreement not be reached, the first stoppage is likely to take place as the holiday season gets underway, with strong support among pilots for an extended strike rather than a series of one-day walk outs.

Balpa represents around 85 per cent of the airline's 750 pilots and 94 per cent of union members took part in the ballot.

The strike call was backed by 94 per cent of those who took part in the vote and comes after protracted pay talks failed to reach an agreement.

Pilots, who saw their pay frozen for three years, were offered a four per cent rise for 2011, followed by three per cent for 2012 and 2013.

"Pilots at Virgin are saying "enough", said Jim McAuslan, the union's general secretary. "We have absolute resolve to secure a fair settlement. When a group professional people say "enough" someone at the top should sit up and listen.

"We do not want to inconvenience the public and hope that Sir Richard will use some of his undoubted Virgin Flair to settle this.''

Virgin's captains are paid around £70,000 a year, while first officers receive £50,000 a year.

The Virgin strike vote comes a matter of weeks after British Airways finally settled its long-running cabin crew dispute.

A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said the airline was disappointed by the result but that talks would continue to try to find a solution.

"We have made an industry leading offer to BALPA that is double the national average for a UK business.

“We value our pilots enormously and that is why we have offered three guaranteed pay rises in the next two and a half years and a share of company profits.

"We believe that once BALPA communicate this offer to our pilots, industrial action will be averted."

Bob Atkinson, of travelsupermarket.com, an online fare comparison site, said the vote was bad news for consumers.

“We advise that all passengers booked with the airline or on package holidays using the carrier, ensure the airline or their tour operator has the most up to date contact information for them on record. They can then be informed if and when any action takes place."

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