Thomas Cook pilots are staging a 12-hour strike in a dispute over pay in the first strike by British pilots in over 40 years.
The pilots walked out at 3am this morning after the airline failed to obtain an injunction to prevent the action.
Union British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said that the Thomas Cook members had taken this course of action ‘extremely reluctantly.’
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “Thomas Cook pilots have faced year-on-year, real-terms pay cuts, and cuts to terms and conditions, and our pilots have said ‘enough is enough’.
“We have, however, kept this action to a minimum – just 12 hours. Thomas Cook have stated that all of its flights will operate – we hope that this is true, as Thomas Cook’s customers are not to blame for this action.”
“The time has come for Thomas Cook to understand the depth of feeling on this issue, listen to its pilots and come forward with a reasonable offer that they can accept,” he added.
Thomas Cook have said they have offered pilots a 4 per cent pay rise over two years.
However the union are seeking a one-year deal that is in excess of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation rate, which was 3.6 per cent in July.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: “We have set out a fair pay increase of 1.75 per cent in year one and 2.25 per cent increase in year two, on top of automatic pay increases, in what is a very competitive environment.
“Balpa have not moved from their demands for a pay rise which adds up to more than 10 per cent, or around £10,000 per pilot.
“We hope Balpa come back to the table willing to negotiate.
“We are grateful to our customers for their understanding and to our pilots who are flying today, as well as staff who are working hard to keep the impact of this strike to a minimum.
“All of our flights so far today have operated without disruption.”