Virgin Atlantic and Balpa meet to avoid industrial action by its pilots

VIRGIN ATLANTIC management met with members from trade union Balpa yesterday in a bid to settle tensions with the airline’s pilots and avoid a possible strike.

The two met last night in an attempt to smooth over a mounting dispute between Virgin Atlantic and its pilots over holiday entitlement and time off.

Balpa, which represents over 75 per cent of airline and helicopter pilots in the UK, said the dispute is over the number of days pilots are allowed to take off in addition to holiday privilege.

Virgin Atlantic pilots have been angered by changes to a system which guarantees them 120 days off a year, on top of holiday, in return for routinely working weekends and bank holidays.

The airline is looking to trim the figure in a bid to cut costs. The airline reported a £132m loss last year.

If neither side can come to an agreement, Balpa already threatened Virgin Atlantic with the possibility of launching the first strike the airline will have suffered.

A spokesperson from the airline said that last month’s talks were constructive and that it awaited Balpa’s reaction.

As City A.M. went to press last night, a decision had not been made. Yesterday’s discussions followed a meeting last month between the union, the airline’s pilots and senior figures at Virgin Atlantic to address the growing concerns.

But talks ended early last month in a bid to avoid confrontation as no agreement was reached at that time.