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Virgin Atlantic pilots to appeal court ruling prohibiting strikes

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9

A union representing pilots at Virgin Atlantic is attempting to overturn a court injunction won by the UK carrier last month, which prevented industrial action from taking place in the run-up to Christmas.

The Professional Pilots’ Union (PPU), which represents about 30% of Virgin Atlantic’s pilots, had planned to carry out a Dec. 22-25 strike, as well as two further four-day stoppages up to Jan. 7, to protest the airline’s refusal to recognize the UK long-haul carrier. However, Virgin won a High Court injunction Dec. 20, prohibiting the industrial action.

In a Jan. 8 statement, the PPU said it had instructed its lawyers to appeal the High Court’s decision, although it remains hopeful that a resolution can be found outside the courtroom.

Talks with Virgin Atlantic have been taking place at UK mediation service ACAS’ headquarters since the injunction was granted, the PPU said, “with a view to reaching agreement on recognition and the union playing a full part in negotiations over the company’s review of pilot’s terms and conditions.”

“It is our hope that these talks achieve our ambition within a reasonable timeframe and that the outcome of the appeal will prove to be academic,” PPU spokesman Steve Johnson said. “Litigation is very expensive—Virgin Atlantic fielded an 11-strong team of lawyers to secure their injunction, but a resolution to what we see as a reasonable demand to be recognized can be obtained for free simply by talking to us.”

But Virgin Atlantic is not commenting on whether such a resolution might be reached through negotiations. A spokesperson for the carrier said: “We’re aware of the PPU’s intention to apply for permission to appeal the decision made by the High Court in December. We believe that the decision was correct and that permission to appeal should be refused. Our flying program continues to operate as normal.”

Towns Needhams Solicitors, which is acting on behalf of the PPU, said it was “confident” the ruling could be “successfully challenged.” It added that the High Court decision could have “far-reaching effects on any similar actions by airline unions in the future.”




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