Virgin Atlantic has "a number of contingency plans" in place as a number of its pilots are set to strike in industrial action held by the Professional Pilots’ Union (PPU).

The union has planned strikes throughout the Christmas period, kicking off on the 22nd December, and has threatened to keep the action ongoing through January and February.

In fact, the PPU has unveiled a full list of dates with planned strikes.

Although the airline initially said it did not anticipate disruption to its schedule, the company has now revealed it is preparing should the strikes go ahead.

It is also currently seeking an injunction to challenge the strike action.

A spokesperson for the brand said in a statement: "Our priority is to ensure that our customers can complete their travel plans this Christmas, regardless of any proposed industrial action from 16% percent of our pilots who voted for this.

"We’ve been working hard to ensure this remains the case and as a result, we have a number of contingency plans in place.

"We’ve secured additional aircraft that, if required, will provide extra capacity to make sure all of our customers can reach their final destinations.

"We continue to encourage anyone due to travel with us this week to check details of their flight at and ensure their contact details are added to their booking."

The airline says a number of its pilots have already agreed to work as plan or even cover extra flights, while they are securing two additional aircraft on a ‘wet lease’ basis; these will not be Virgin Atlantic planes or cabin crew, but can be used if they need to boost their flying programme.

Virgin Atlantic is currently focusing on the Christmas dates as it says it has not been officially notified by the PPU of strike action in January and February, although a spokesperson said the company is "reviewing our contingency plans" should these go ahead.

The dispute comes as the airline refuses to recognise the PPU as a union, despite the organisation representing a third of its pilots.

As a result, it has not included the PPU in negotiations over pilots’ benefits and wages, although it is entering discussions with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA).

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