Virgin Atlantic pilots face strike ballot as pay talks collapse

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Virgin Atlantic is facing the threat of a pilot strike after year-long pay talks broke down.

The news means that thousands of British holidaymakers could be facing a summer of disruption.

The ballot, which has been called by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) will take four weeks to carry out, starting on 24 May.

If the strike goes ahead, it will be the first pilots' strike in the airline's history.

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of BALPA, told the BBC: 'Virgin's pilots feel very angry and disappointed at the way they are being treated.'

BALPA, which represents most of Virgin's 750 pilots, says its members have accepted a pay freeze since 2008 to help the company during the recession.

'During the tough years, pilots have made sacrifices to help the business on the basis that fair pay would return, but that hasn't proved to be the case,' added Mr McAuslan.

He said his members had been offered rises of four per cent in 2012 and three per cent in 2013, which he said fell short of the current five per cent inflation rate.

Mr McAuslan added that Virgin pilots deserved a bigger pay rise to make up for the years of no increases.

Current salaries are between £58,000 and £110,000 per year.

'The company is asking us to effectively sign up to five years of cuts in pay,' he said.

Virgin Atlantic said in a statement that it had made a 'fair, affordable and sustainable offer that is in line with the rest of the industry'.

The airline added that it remained open to dialogue, and that its flight schedule continued to operate as normal.

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