Virgin ends strike threat

VIRGIN Atlantic averted the threat of the first strike in its 26-year history yesterday, after it reached an agreement with pilot’s union Balpa over the time off its members take.

Under the deal Virgin pilots remain entitled to “at least 120 days off” a year, equivalent to an office worker’s weekends and bank holidays. Virgin’s negotiating team was led by chief executive Steve Ridgway.

Virgin, which is majority owned by billionaire Sir Richard Branson, said: “During the course of these discussions both parties have also identified some opportunities to modernise the relationship between Virgin Atlantic and Balpa in the future and we are looking forward to working on this together.” Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan described the talks as “frank, to the point and creative.”

Meanwhile, rival British Airways’ 19-month dispute with its Unite cabin crew over pay and conditions continues. Earlier this week Unite’s Heathrow branch membership called on its national union to launch a ballot for more strike action in the run up to Christmas.