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BALPA pilots and tech crew at Bristow Helicopters strike in dispute over pay

BALPA pilots and tech crew at Bristow Helicopters strike in dispute over pay

The British Airline Pilots’ Association says its members in Bristow Helicopters have been forced to strike by a management which continues to belligerently ignore their calls for a fair and reasonable pay offer.  

The pilots and tech crew (including search and rescue winch operators and winch paramedics) will be involved in strike action on Tuesday and Wednesday to Thursday, after Bristow Helicopters management failed to come to the table with a fair and reasonable pay deal.

BALPA had previously postponed strike dates in a bid to pursue a negotiated settlement, and entered into ACAS talks, but the company has failed to listen and has not come forward with a fair pay offer that is acceptable to BALPA members.


“We’ve been in negotiations for well over a year and have given the company ample opportunities to listen to its own staff. Time and again Bristow management has shown the contempt it has for employees by failing to present an offer that is anywhere near acceptable to our members. 

“These loyal pilots and technical crew operate in some of the most treacherous and challenging conditions transporting workers to the oil and gas rigs in the North Sea and providing vital search and rescue services. There are tens of thousands of workers offshore at any time working in the oil and gas industry and every single one is able to get to work and get home again because of helicopter pilots. The oil and gas industry contributes significantly to the UK economy and pilots are vital to that work. Search and rescue pilots and technical crew (including winch operators and winch paramedics) risk their lives to save others and provide one of the most challenging emergency services.  Despite years of pay freezes and cuts BALPA members have remained dedicated to their jobs and have supported the company in difficult times. 

“Now the company is doing well and reporting profits our members are simply asking for a fair pay deal that demonstrates the company values them and repays some of the loyalty shown and the contribution pilots and technical crews have made to the company’s success.

Our members are determined to be heard. Bristow management need to listen and put forward a fair pay offer that recognises the considerable value of pilots and technical crew. 


The strike dates are as follows:


Bristow pilots and technical crew have accepted below-inflation pay settlements and pay freezes for the past few years whilst the company was experiencing financial difficulties.

Now the company’s finances are much healthier, we believe it is time to repay their flight crews’ loyalty by restoring pay levels so they are comparable to other helicopter companies.

We are seeing recovery in aviation, the oil and gas industry has had a blockbuster year in 2022 with record breaking profits and Bristow’s CEO has been awarded a pay rise of 20%.

We submitted our pay claim in February 2023 and, despite several meetings with management to negotiate and ACAS conciliation, we have not been able to reach any agreement.

What has BALPA asked for:

  • From 1 April 2023, an increase to pilot and technical crew salaries and allowances in line with the RPI rate of inflation;
  • From 1 April 2023, an increase to the employer’s pension contribution rate;
  • An increase in Loss of Licence cover as well as harmonisation of Loss of License benefits for ex-BIH employees.
  • Medical insurance: amount of cover to be increased
  • Removal of discrepancies between ex-BIH crew based in Newquay and existing Bristow aircrew in relation to employer pension contribution rate, sick pay provision and LoL/medical benefits.

Will a strike affect Search and Rescue cover?

Our argument is with Bristow’s highly paid management and not the public. Our members spend their whole working lives trying to protect the public and take that responsibility seriously. We have structured our strike so there will be life and limb cover.

When was the last strike in Bristow?  

The last time BALPA conducted an industrial action ballot the strike was called off at the 11th hour because the company put forward an improved offer.


Nancy Jackson(She/Her)

Communications Manager

T: +44(0) 7889 087 943

E: NancyJackson@balpa.org

W: www.BALPA.org