Virgin Atlantic wins court ruling to avert festive-season pilot strike
The walkout, due to start on December 22, was called over a dispute about union recognition
London — Virgin Atlantic won a court ruling blocking a strike by a group of its pilots during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Judge Akhlaq Choudhury granted the airline an injunction against the pilots, saying the breakaway union didn’t inform the airline how many captains and first officers were striking.
The walkout, which was due to start on December 22, just as the festive holidays were set to start, was called over a dispute about union recognition. While Virgin Atlantic said it would still have been able to maintain flight schedules, the strike was “designed to cause the maximum in financial loss and disruption”.
“We took the decision to go to court reluctantly, but we felt it necessary to ensure that our customers will be able to travel over the festive period as planned,’ Virgin Atlantic said. “With the significant disruption to flights already caused by today’s [Thursday’s] closure of Gatwick Airport, our utmost priority is now getting our customers to their destinations over the festive period.”
The airline “has been forced to make its preparations with one hand tied behind its back”, John Cavanagh, a lawyer for Virgin Atlantic, said in court on Thursday.
The Professional Pilots Union represents over a third of the 965 Virgin Atlantic pilot workforce, according to its statement. David Mutty, a captain at the airline, said the cockpit crew were “fed up” with Virgin Atlantic’s refusal to recognise the union. “Pilots are, in general, a pretty conservative group of people,” he said in a written submission to the court.