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'Terrible blow'

Balpa has pledged its support for members working for Virgin, whom the union said would likely be "devastated" by the news, and urged government to step in to support the UK aviation sector.

 

"There are 426 pilots at risk," said Balpa. "This is another terrible blow for the industry and is evidence of the dire situation facing UK aviation.

 

"Without immediate action by the government, we will see the once world leading industry decimated and that will have an effect throughout the UK economy and to all the other industries that rely on aviation.

 

"Virgin applied for government support weeks ago, and Treasury is still prevaricating. It won’t just be airline staff who are hit by this lack of support, it will reverberate right through to the whole UK."

 

General secretary Brian Strutton added: "Our members and all staff in Virgin Atlantic will be shocked by the scale of this bombshell. We will be challenging Virgin very hard to justify this.

 

"My letter to the chancellor yesterday [Monday] is all the more significant – why is the government sitting on its hands while aviation plunges further towards a death spiral?

 

"Government should call a moratorium on job losses in aviation and lead a planned recovery."

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