Hundreds of passengers could see their travel plans thrown into chaos this Christmas as Virgin Atlantic pilots have voted in favour of strike action.
The Professional Pilots Union has revealed that its members voted in favour of industrial action with a 71.5 per cent majority in a turnout of 72 per cent.
The strikes are reportedly set to kick off on Saturday 22nd December, with a series of further strikes set to continue until the union’s dispute with the airline is resolved.
Currently strikes are planned for 22nd-25th December, 30th December to 2nd January, 4th-7th January, all dates inclusive if they do go ahead.
Of course this falls just days before Christmas, and could cause disruptions for those planning to travel abroad to see families, or for those who had planned winter sun getaways to escape the dreary December weather.
The dispute seems to be over reviews of the benefits the airline offers its pilots.
Virgin Atlantic is entering discussions with union British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) to review these, but has not included the PPU in the negotiations.
This is because, although the PPU represents approximately 30 per cent of its pilots, Virgin Atlantic currently does not recognise it as a union.
A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic told Mirror Online: “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.”
Meanwhile PPU spokesperson Steve Johnson, a former Virgin Atlantic pilot and Red Arrows pilot, said in a statement: “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.”