Virgin Atlantic pilot strikes cancelled as court grants airline injunction

Virgin Atlantic pilot strikes set to take place over the Christmas period have been cancelled.

The airline was granted an injunction it was seeking against the Professional Pilots’ Union (PPU) who were set to hold the strikes over the 22nd to 25th December.

A representative for the airline had previously told Mirror Online that they were taking the action "reluctantly" after a number of its pilots prepared for industrial action.

The injunction also means that the PPU’s scheduled strikes in January and February won’t go ahead.

The dispute arose because Virgin Atlantic refuses to recognise the PPU as a union, and therefore excluded the organisation from talks regarding reviews of pilots’ wages and benefits.

It did however enter negotiations with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA).

The PPU, which represents a third of the airline’s pilots, held a ballot in which a 71.5 per cent majority voted in favour of industrial action, out of a 72 per cent turn out.

Barristers John Cavanagh QC and Julian Milford, who represented the airline, argued that the strikes were unlawful because the PPU had not given the airline proper notice of the category of employees concerned, not the number of employees due to take part in the industrial action.

For example, a Captain needs to be available to fly a plane along a First Officer – so if Captains are part of the strike, the airline needs to know as it affects their schedule.

A statement on the barristers’ website explained: "The Judge, Mr Justice Choudhury, held that the union (PPU’s) notice of ballot and notice of strike action were each defective because they had not complied with the obligation to identify the category of employees concerned, and had not given the numbers of employees in the relevant categories."

While the blocked strikes will no doubt be a relief to the airline, it’s currently dealing with the delays and cancellations caused to flights at Gatwick airport after drones were spotted flying over the airfield.

A number of airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, were forced to suspend flights as a result of the airport closing its sole runway.

Thousands of passengers were left stranded while the police and army searched for those responsible.

Although the airport has now re-opened, there are still delays as travel firms and airlines work around the chaos.

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