Virgin pilots accept new pay offer

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The Independent Travel

Pilots with Sir Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic, have voted to accept a pay offer - finally ending the prospect of strike action.

The pilots' union, Balpa, said the deal included a profit-share scheme, a programme to review pilot lifestyle and a commitment on improving the way management and pilots work together.

Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: "Virgin Atlantic pilots voted overwhelmingly for strike action in June but, given some improvement on pay, against very tough trading conditions, and commitments to improve lifestyle, they have now decided to settle this pay round with the future in mind.

"Now we need to work together - management and association - to get Virgin back to the airline it once was."

In a letter to Sir Richard, Mr McAuslan said that, although long-service pilots recalled Virgin being fuelled by passion, fun and unbounded enthusiasm, "that does not feel like the DNA of today".

He said pilots need to hear less from Sir Richard about how things used to be and more about how they ought to be.

Mr McAuslan has told Sir Richard that at present management does "too much listening and not enough hearing" and that pilots' first-ever vote for strike action should be sounding alarm bells.

He added: "But strike threat is not the best way to run industrial relations.

"There are lessons for us all in this dispute and Balpa's board will be tabling ideas on how we can be robust, professional and business-like in our dealings and we will be looking to engage with progressive employers in this way."

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: "We are very pleased that our pilots have accepted our pay offer as we value their commitment and expertise enormously.

"The offer that has been agreed is both fair and affordable and the company would like to thank our pilots' representatives for gaining a good understanding of the wider economic climate and commending the pay award."