DALLAS – Virgin Atlantic (VS) flight crew have said they are willing to go on strike regarding “serious concerns” over fatigue and wellbeing.
The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the union representing the crew, has said that changes made to the pilots scheduling and rostering arrangements during the Covid-19 pandemic have taken its toll on its members. These alterations included reduced rest down route. It added that 81% of its pilots completed the informal poll, with 96% supporting strike action, indicating their feelings towards the changes.
Currently, the maximum flying hours for a commercial pilot are set at 900 hours per calendar year under Civil Aviation Authority regulations. The rostered average for the 835 Virgin Atlantic pilots currently stands at around 750 hours.
A spokesperson for BALPA said, “It’s clear Virgin Atlantic pilots feel very strongly about this. BALPA prefers to address matters constructively through negotiation and industrial compromise and will only countenance industrial action as a last resort.
“We remain ready to commence negotiations to find an acceptable way forward and urge Virgin Atlantic to listen to its staff and put forward an acceptable offer that our members could support.”
The London-based carrier was hit hard during the pandemic, receiving no financial support from the UK government. Instead, founder Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group invested £200m (US$250m) to keep the airline flying. It also cut 3,500 staff members and altered the terms and conditions of those who remained. VS said this “radical transformation” was “fundamental to our survival and our steadfast commitment to returning to sustainable profitability.”
The current schedule, which VS said first agreed with BALPA, is in place until the end of the year. Virgin has said that it is willing to negotiate the issues in the coming weeks.
Featured Image: G-VJAZ – Virgin Atlantic – Airbus A330-900 (A339) – ATL KATL. Photo: Rohan Ramalingam/Airways.