Pilots working for Virgin Atlantic have voted to strike over the festive season, the Professional Pilots Union has said.

The strike action, slated for December 22 to Christmas Day, December 30 to January 2 and from January 4 to January 7, surrounds a dispute over union recognition.

Virgin Atlantic says it does not expect any disruption to its schedule. A spokeswoman said: “A small number of our pilots have voted for industrial action.

“Our absolute priority is to ensure that all of our customers can continue their journeys as planned this Christmas, and we’re working hard to protect all of their trips.”

The PPU represents around 30% of pilots at the airline. Virgin Atlantic does not recognise it as a union. The ballot was called when the airline chose to only deal with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) over a pilots benefits review.

Reports suggest nearly 72% of pilots who took part in the ballot voted in favour of strike action.

PPU spokesman Steve Johnson said: “It’s the last straw; Virgin Atlantic have consistently refused to recognise the PPU as a legitimate and independent union, essentially disenfranchising our members.

“Despite the rhetoric that consultations are inclusive of all staff and unions, in practice this doesn’t happen. We hope that Virgin acknowledge the mandate our members have given us, and help avoid strike action by recognising the PPU and halt the benefits review that is so damaging to our members long-term security.

“Our door is – and has always been – open to Virgin to take the necessary steps to prevent any disruption for Christmas travellers. This is such an easy fix for the company; by including all unions in negotiations – not just one selected by the company – it can then live up to its claimed inclusiveness and we can get round the table together to negotiate a sustainable outcome for our members.

“The pilot workforce is a professional and committed group that sees striking as anathema, but clearly feel bullied into this action by a company that chooses to ignore them.”

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “This is deeply worrying for families and people desperate to see loved ones over the Christmas period, especially with the strike action potentially starting on what will be one of the busiest travel days of the year.

“Our advice to anyone planning a trip over the Christmas break is not to panic but check with Virgin Atlantic before you travel.

“While we hope Virgin can sort this out, if your journey is affected remember that you do have rights.”

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