Hundreds of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew take legal action and say 'it is unfair'

Hundreds of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew have sued for unfair dismissal, according to reports. A tribunal in London set to take place will hear claims Richard Branson’s airline used Covid redundancies to target older staff during the pandemic.

It will start examining more than 200 cases next month. After Covid hit, Virgin cut 3,000 jobs, eventually losing more than 40% of its 10,000-strong workforce, and established a “holding pool” for staff who were made redundant to be potentially hired again when flights resumed.

Virgin retained 350 new cabin crew, while onboard managers, who were 45 on average with 20 years’ experience, were made redundant. One 53-year-old said: “It seemed the world was closing down and losing jobs was inevitable. But the way they went about it seemed unfair. But I was flabbergasted that I wasn’t in the holding pool.

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“There were people who hadn’t even got their wings – after six weeks of training – in the pool, and there seemed to be too many of us of an age that were left out.” She added: “It was a devastating loss … It felt like my identity was gone, and I was in a dark place with how they went about it. I’d felt it was an honour to work for Virgin, and I couldn’t believe they’d done what they’d done.”

A spokesperson for the airline said: “Following the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation industry, Virgin Atlantic had to make very difficult decisions. Sadly, this included reducing the number of people employed across the business by 45%.

“Our people are incredibly important to us, from those who have been with us since 1984, to our newest recruits. Throughout the redundancy process, we were committed to ensuring all our people were treated fairly and compassionately.

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“To allow as many of our people to return as soon as demand allowed, we introduced a holding pool, which meant that more than 1,000 of our cabin crew returned at their previous level of seniority.

“Where people had to unfortunately leave us, it was for unbiased, objective and lawful reasons, after full consultation with our recognised unions, elected colleague representatives and clear and open continued communication.”