Virgin Atlantic could face pilots’ strike over benefits

Virgin Atlantic could face a pilots’ strike during the busy Christmas period in a row over benefits

  • The Professional Pilots Union says it is balloting its 450 Virgin Atlantic members
  • It says a new deal on benefits has only been negotiated with rival union Balpa 
  • It is believed airline informed pilots last week of changes to terms in contracts 

Virgin Atlantic could face a pilots’ strike during the busy Christmas period in a row over benefits.

The UK-based carrier, which is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and U.S. airline Delta, has refused to negotiate with the Professional Pilots Union (PPU), the union says.

The PPU represents 450 of the company’s 800 pilots but says Virgin Atlantic has only negotiated with rival union Balpa.

Virgin Atlantic could face a pilots’ strike during the busy Christmas period in a row over benefits

And in a statement, the PPU explained it would be balloting members on strike action after the airline ‘refused to consult with the union on the deal’. 

It said: ‘(The) union is threatening strike action unless the company include them in the negotiations and scrap the (benefits) review.’


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However, a spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said there was currently no strike action planned but added that it could work with the PPU in future if it dropped a demand.

She explained: ‘We’ve always been willing in principle to recognise the PPU, but we won’t agree to their demand that we de-recognise Balpa, and disenfranchise the hundreds of pilots who belong to this union.’

It is believed that Virgin Atlantic had informed pilots last week of changes to the terms and conditions in their contracts.

Air France-KLM is due to buy 31 per cent of Virgin Atlantic from Virgin Group, making it the second-largest shareholder after Delta

According to the Financial Times, these included capping an income protection scheme at five years, cancelling a dependents’ pension scheme, and reducing corporate pension contributions from 15 per cent to 10 per cent.

But the PPU has reportedly branded these proposals as a ‘cost-cutting exercise’ and a vote for industrial action could see walkouts at the busiest time of the year for aviation.

Air France-KLM is due to buy 31 per cent of Virgin Atlantic from Virgin Group, making it the second-largest shareholder after Delta.

The deal is expected to be completed in 2019. 

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