Pilots at Virgin Atlantic contemplate a strike over fatigue

After expressing "serious concerns" about their health and the effects of weariness on their work, pilots for Virgin Atlantic have hinted that they are considering going on strike. According to Union Balpa, a recent referendum found that 96% of pilots working for Virgin Atlantic backed a ballot on industrial action. In question are the scheduling and rostering agreements that were made during Covid and will expire in December. These may cause problems if they are not resolved.

Virgin has stated that it is willing to get into discussions within the next few weeks. According to the airline, the current pay and lifestyle agreement was "agreed upon, developed, and supported by Balpa pilot representatives within Virgin Atlantic and our pilot community."

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson stated, "We continue to honor all agreements and have offered to enter formal pay and lifestyle negotiations with Balpa's pilot union representatives in the coming weeks, well in advance of the agreement's December expiration."

After international travel was halted to prevent the spread of Covid, airlines were one of the worst-affected industries during the pandemic. It is believed that the majority of the 835 pilots employed by Virgin Atlantic are members of the Balpa pilots' union.

A Balpa spokesperson mentioned that their members have filed a trade dispute with Virgin Atlantic due to grave concerns regarding pilot fatigue and well-being in relation to scheduling and rostering arrangements implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was reported that 81 percent of its Virgin Atlantic union members engaged in the referendum, providing Balpa with a clear mandate to prosecute this dispute.

According to the Civil Aviation Administration, a commercial pilot may fly a maximum of 900 hours per calendar year. It is believed that the average rostered flight time for Virgin Atlantic pilots is approximately 750 hours.

Sir Richard Branson founded Virgin Group, which includes Virgin Atlantic. Recently, the billionaire told the sources that he feared losing his entire business enterprise, which includes gyms and hotels, during the pandemic. He claimed the shutdowns cost him personally £1.5 billion.

Sir Richard requested assistance from the British government in 2020 but was denied. Virgin Group ultimately injected £200 million into the airline and obtained additional investment to keep the business afloat. At the time, it eliminated 3,500 positions, leaving it with 6,500 workers.

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic stated on Sunday that the airline undertook an enormous change as a result of the impact of Covid-19, which was made possible by the efforts of our phenomenal employees.

They stated, "This was crucial to our survival and our commitment to returning to profitable operations." Our gratitude extends to all of them, including our pilots, who play a crucial role in the success of our operation."

Balpa members feel very strongly about pilot fatigue and wellbeing, according to the organization. The union stated that it prefers to resolve issues through "negotiation and industrial compromise" and that industrial action is a last resort.

The statement continued, "We remain prepared to begin negotiations in order to find an acceptable path forward, and we urge Virgin Atlantic to pay attention  to its employees and present a proposal that our members could support."