A question mark still hung over thousands of summer holidays as negotiations between Virgin Atlantic and union bosses came to an end yesterday (July 6).
The British Airline Pilots Association, which has been in talks with the airline this week, issued a terse statement saying that discussions were due to finish yesterday and that its national executive committee will be “discussing the way forward” today.
The delay in either resolving the dispute over pay or announcing strike dates has left passengers due to fly this summer uncertain whether or not their holidays plans will go ahead.
A walkout by the airline’s 750 flight crew would have to start by July 18, four weeks after the strike ballot. Most state schools break up for the summer holidays that week.
BALPA, whose members voted overwhelmingly for industrial action over a 4% pay increase, must give the airline seven days’ notice of any strike.
In an open letter to pilots last week, airline founder and president Sir Richard Branson said: “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 plans to operate part of its schedule through the possible strike, using a combination of management-level pilots and crew hired from other carriers.
However, it is believed strikes might follow the process set by British Airways cabin crew, with action taken in blocks of up to five days with only two days before the next walkout – making it impossible to reposition aircraft or crew.
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