Virgin Atlantic Pilots: Potential Strike Over Fatigue

Virgin Atlantic Pilots: Potential Strike Over Fatigue
Photo Credit: Jacob Jones/AviationSource

It is understood that there may be a potential strike from Virgin Atlantic pilots over fatigue and their overall well-being.

Trade union BALPA has announced that 96% of pilots have supported a ballot on industrial action, as per the BBC.

Ahead of the potential strike action, the airline has already said it is up for entering talks over the next couple of weeks.

The Argument of Fatigue Within Virgin Atlantic…

Virgin Atlantic Pilots: Potential Strike Over Fatigue
Photo Credit: James Field/AviationSource

As per requirements from the UK Civil Aviation Authority, the maximum flying time for a commercial pilot is 900 hours per calendar year.

It is understood that the average yearly work rate for Virgin Atlantic pilots is at 750 hours, which is more on the higher end of the scale.

This isn’t much of a surprise, given the vast majority of its flights are long-haul services.

On the potential strike action, a spokesperson at Virgin Atlantic has said the following on this:

“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 expiring in December.”


BALPA added to this, saying the following:

“Our members have registered a trade dispute with Virgin Atlantic arising out of serious concerns relating to pilot fatigue and wellbeing around scheduling and rostering arrangements implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“It said that 81% of its Virgin Atlantic union members voted in the ballot, which it said gave Balpa “an overwhelming mandate to pursue this dispute”.

Not The First Time Fatigue Has Been Mentioned…

Virgin Atlantic Pilots: Potential Strike Over Fatigue
Photo Credit: James Field/AviationSource

This isn’t the first time that the topic of fatigue has been mentioned across the airline industry, with the Virgin Atlantic saga being the latest piece in this.

Back in June 2022, there was some controversy at Wizz Air when a leaked internal video was released suggesting that the CEO Jozsef Varadi was encouraging pilots to fly fatigued.

Wizz Air did clarify that they are not compromising safety and mentioned crew unavailability was very low.

BALPA, which also represents Virgin Atlantic as well, came out and said the following at the time:

“I would urge Mr. Váradi to swiftly clarify that Wizz Air would fully support any pilot who does the right thing by not flying if they feel fatigued for the safety of their passengers, crew, and aircraft.”

“I urge him to be as professional as his pilots in seeking to eradicate fatigue from the flight deck.”

What Happens Next?

Photo Credit: Kyle Hayes/AviationSource

With Virgin Atlantic pilots strongly supporting a ballot on strike action, this will no doubt pressure the airline into talks before this escalates further.

For the airline, it will be the case of pursuing better well-being arrangements and is not so much an issue of pay, although monetary improvements could also help this too.

But for now, all eyes will be on BALPA and Virgin Atlantic to see where else this could go and whether a solution can be made quickly and amicably.

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By James Field - Editor in Chief 4 Min Read
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