Virgin Atlantic strikes put holidays at risk

Caroline Cassidy

British travellers hoping to cross the pond for this summer's holiday could be disappointed this year as Virgin Atlantic pilots yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

Virgin Atlantic strikes
Virgin Atlantic strikes

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Some 750 of the airline's key pilots are due to walk out, causing long-haul chaos for families hoping to travel to popular destinations such as California, Florida, the Caribbean and Australia.

Pilots earning up to £110,000 voted for strikes after being offered a four per cent pay rise following three years of salary freezes and a majority of 97 per cent were in favour of industrial action.

The news is particularly frustrating as many had opted to travel with Richard Branson's airline instead of British Airways, from whom cabin staff had threatened more walk-outs, but the BA dispute may soon be reaching a conclusion, while the first of the threatened Virgin walk-outs is expected to take place in July with more to follow.

Jim McAuslan, chief of the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa), explained the decision, saying: "There has been no UK pilot strike for 32 years. But there comes a time when even moderate people say enough.

"With no pay increase since 2008, a below inflation offer for 2011 and proposals for 2012 and 2013 that will be sub-inflation this is now a six-year attack on living standards which has not happened in any other UK airline."

A Virgin spokesman, however, insisted its pay deal was "double the national average for a UK business" but added that the airline was "committed to further talks" in the hopes of finding a solution.

In the meantime, the company says it has been preparing "contingency plans" should no deal be struck.

What do you think? Are Virgin pilots right to strike? Leave a comment below...