Branson begs Virgin pilots not to strike


Sir Richard Branson has written a letter to Virgin Atlantic pilots asking them to reconsider striking.
British Airline Pilot's Association (BALPA) is threatening industrial action in protest of its members having not received pay rises since 2008 and the 2011-2013 pay offers being insufficient to keep up with inflation.
In his letter, Branson writes that unless the British Airline Pilot's Association (BALPA) promises to withdraw its threat to take action "very soon", it will leave an "indelible scar on the company" and "impact customers' trust".

Holidays ruined
The strike could come at the "worst time for families", said Bob Atkinson, spokesperson for
"With the strikes potentially taking part in the busiest part of the year, huge numbers of families will have their holidays ruined," he added.

Branson, who admits not taking an active role managing the airline for a number of years, says he has looked at all the facts and thinks the airline has made "the best offer it can". He said: "The balancing act our chief operating officer and board have is that if we go further for one sector of the workforce, especially in these difficult times for everybody, we have to do the same for all sectors.
"And from looking at the figures it will mean asking the public to pay higher fares and in this difficult economic climate, we simply cannot do that at this time." 
BALPA is expected to announce dates of its strike action tomorrow. Jim McAuslan, general secretary for BALPA, says Virgin's pilots don't want to strike but they have "absolute resolve to secure a fair settlement".

If my holiday plans are affected, what can I do?

Atkinson advises holidaymakers who have flights booked with Virgin to ensure they have appropriate travel insurance as soon as possible: "It is vital that all passengers have travel insurance that has a strike clause within it. You can still take out cover up until the union announces specific dates of action.
"This will then cover you against any potential losses should your flight or holiday and travel plans be disrupted."
He also suggests contacting the airline, tour operator or travel agent you booked with to ensure it has the most up-to-date contact information to be informed of strike action.

Read: 10 tips when buying travel insurance

Am I covered?

Holidaymakers who have booked a package deal through Virgin Holidays are protected under the holiday financial protection scheme ATOL and will be entitled to either a full refund or alternative flights or alternative flight dates.
Those who have booked flights direct with Virgin receive the same level of protection under EU261 regulations; however, Atkinson warns while passengers should be able to get their money back, or make alternative travel plans, many will still have their summer holidays disrupted:

"The problem is that on popular summer routes to places such as Florida and Dubai, these flights are already going to be choc a bloc – so Virgin will have nowhere to put its passengers."

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Booked holiday to Barbados for end of July
1st holiday in 10 years which is likey to be ruined by this strike action (Years off hard saving required)

Pilot are not the only ones who have had to suffer zero or below inflation increase in the last few years. The same applies to my company and I suspect a lot of other companies. We can't just walk out or go on strike we have to bite the bullet and tough it out. I suspect pilot are a lot better paid than me and a lot of others. They should be a bit more considerate in these hard times

Virgin have a very glam image but working for them is another matter

I think for pilots to threaten strike for the first time, it must be dire

Nice that BA are now strike free so I guess they will capitalist back some bookings lost last year

Like most people i also have not had a wage increaase for 4 years and am unlikely to get one. We are in recession pilots please please do not take my holiday.

The pilot's should bite the bullet , like thousands of people have had to do when told there will be NO salary increase. Be thankful you for what you have been offered. 4% is not bad in this economy . Please don't hold the public to ransom by striking . I am due to fly with Virgin next week , but my concern will be in in August when my 15yr old granddaughter will fly back to the states by herself .

whilst i support the right to strike, i cannot see that the pilots are so hard done by, It is a fact that generally most people are being asked to take pay cuts, let alone given pay rises, and these arent just lower paid unskilled workers, this is the norm in most professions. The reality is that the pilots are well paid and have been given a good offer, so many people are going to be affected by this strike,most people will have in the main saved hard to have a holiday, and most of these are on far less wages than the pilots themselves. As far as the future, i dont think that pilots are doing themselves or virgin a great deal of good, firstly because people will be angry at loosing the chance of a holiday and will think again before choosing this airline and secondly the prices of flying with Virgin will inevitably rise to pay for any extra money which is awarded should the strike action be successfull.

well said the above poster...well said indeed!!!

Having been head of HR Operations for one of the biggest companies in the UK (now retired ) ,I can say that from my experience managements deserve the Union actions they experience.Good management leads a strike free committed workforce.This management clearly has failed and my holiday plans and those of thousands of others will be ruined.Sir Richard,change the management team !!!!

"It would appear that this ruinous management team are hoping that the wrath of public opinion against the pilots will carry them through. Very sad as this looks like being the end for Virgin Atlantic. The pilots will strike and most probably will risk bringing the company down."

Virgin will be fine and will ride out the storm....... all that Branson need do is to offer a few pieces of silver to those 'brave', strike breaking BALPA members - the BA pilots - and he'll be able to keep 100% of his operation going. Problem solved!

Although a great shame the pilots may have to strike- looks like my holiday ruined- must indicate that they must all be very fed up indeed.

Unless people stand up to companies that can reward fairly they will get walked over and conditions deteriote to a poor where poor service will be received by us the general public.

Good for you Virgin pilots- hope Virgin see sense!

I have no sympathy for the pilots, who are well paid anyway, but suspect that the real problem rests with Virgin's HR team.

Virgin is simply demonstrating that they are no better than BA and have very little regard for their customers. If this is the way Virgin treat their customers, then hopefully many will show their dissapproval by flying with a different carrier in future.

Like many, I stand to lose many dollars if they fail to get me to the hotel that I have booked in New England. I would never choose to fly with them but this flight is (or maybe was) compensation for an earlier overbooked flight where they let many passengers down in San Francisco.

As a single parent earning £9700 per year gross, I've saved up long and hard for the past 3 years to take my kids on a holiday of a lifetime to Orlando. I've not had a pay rise in 2 years and there isn't going to be one in the foreseeable future. I've gone without lots of things and made huge sacrifices to afford this holiday. My suitcase - already packed does not have one item of new clothing in it but my kids all have new clothes. I've paid out £1600 in theme park tickets and have paid for car hire - all independently and all non-refundable. If the pilots strike and we don't get to fly on 28th July - the date we have yearned for for 3 years, I not only stand to lose a holiday but stand to be financially ruined. We have no other foreseeable holiday in the coming years as this was the one to last us. Please please don't do this to us. You have no idea of the devistation you will cause. We didn't cause the problems. PLease don't take it out on us - your loyal customers - who without us, you would not have a wage to bother about.

I stopped flying British Airways because of their Industrial action. Looks like
it is going to be the same for Virgin. All this action does is drive people away.
Whatever the dispute, it is always settled by talks, not by inflicting misery on
your customers.

If they strike i won't book with V