Virgin Atlantic pilots within the Professional Pilots Union have voted to carry out strike action over the Christmas period.

Over 70 per cent of those pilots who took part in the vote were in favour of industrial action, with walkouts planned for December 22-25, December 30 – January 2, and January 4-7 inclusive.

Virgin Atlantic does not recognise the PPU – which represents around 30 per cent of the carrier’s pilots – dealing instead with the British Airline Pilots’ Association.

The PPU said that its members had conducted a work-to-rule action for two years to secure recognition by Virgin, but had been forced to take action after being shut out of vital negotiations concerning its 400+ members.

Announcing the strike action Spokesman for the PPU, former Virgin and Red Arrows pilot Steve Johnson, said:

“It’s the last straw; Virgin Atlantic have consistently refused to recognise the PPU as a legitimate and independent union, essentially disenfranchising our members.

“Despite the rhetoric that consultations are inclusive of all staff and unions, in practice this doesn’t happen. We hope that Virgin acknowledge the mandate our members have given us, and help avoid strike action by recognising the PPU and halt the benefits review that is so damaging to our members long-term security.

“Our door is – and has always been – open to Virgin to take the necessary steps to prevent any disruption for Christmas travellers. This is such an easy fix for the company; by including all unions in negotiations – not just one selected by the company – it can then live up to its claimed inclusiveness and we can get round the table together to negotiate a sustainable outcome for our members.

“The pilot workforce is a professional and committed group that sees striking as anathema, but clearly feel bullied into this action by a company that chooses to ignore them.”

In response a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said:

“A small number of our pilots have voted for industrial action. Our absolute priority is to ensure that all of our customers can continue their journeys as planned this Christmas, and we’re working hard to protect all of their trips.”

The airline added that it did not expect any disruption to its flying programme as a result of the strike action.