Virgin Atlantic bans cabin crew from socialising due to Covid fears

The new directive was introduced despite cabin crew and pilots working closely on international flights

Joanna Whitehead
Monday 31 January 2022 13:49 GMT
<p>Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson flanked by two crew members in June 2009</p>

Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson flanked by two crew members in June 2009

Virgin Atlantic flight crew have been banned from socialising together amid concerns that out-of-hours partying runs the risk of spreading coronavirus among staff.

Cabin crew and pilots have been instructed not to eat or socialise together, or with staff from other flights, despite spending up to 12 hours working alongside each other on international flights.

Virgin bosses also informed crew that they should remain in bubbles of four people maximum when “socialising inside”.

It is understood that the new rule has been introduced due to fears of workers contracting coronavirus and flights being cancelled due to staff sickness.

The directive has been in place since 21 December.

Such rules are not believed to have been imposed on other carriers.

Martin Chalk, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), the union representing pilots, argues that the restrictions should be lifted with immediate effect.

“The challenges faced and overcome by pilots and our cabin crew colleagues during the pandemic, particularly the overblown and oppressive requirements in some places, are illustrated by the difficulties this airline is trying to address,” he said.

“Airline crew already spend considerable time away from their family and friends. These requested restrictions should be lifted as quickly as possible to enable them to support each other as normal while away from home.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic told The Independent that the airline is “actively reviewing whether this policy is still necessary”.

They said: “We continue to take pre-emptive measures to uphold operational and staffing resilience, always putting the health and safety of our people and our customers first.

“Alongside any local requirements, temporary measures are in place for our crews to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission while they are overseas. This guidance to our people means we ensure they stay healthy and well and avoid flight disruption or cancellations for customers.

“These measures are kept under constant review and will be maintained only as long is necessary.”

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