Pilots at Thomas Cook launched a 12-hour strike on Friday. The tour operator had offered a derisory below-inflation pay rise.
Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) walked out in the first strike by British pilots since 1974.
The union took the decision to walk out after eight months of negotiations led to an offer of 1.5 per cent - below the rate of inflation. This would have meant a pay reduction in real terms.
Balpa wanted a a pay rise at least in line with inflation plus better facilities for pilots. The union said it decided to take action “extremely reluctantly” after talks chaired by conciliation service Acas collapsed.
Members voted nine to one in favour of industrial action with an 88 per cent turnout in a ballot held last month.
Thomas Cook tried to block the strike with an injunction but it was rightly refused by High Court judges.
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “Thomas Cook pilots have faced pay cuts and slashed terms and conditions and say enough is enough.
“Going on strike is not something pilots take lightly. Balpa members haven’t been on strike since 1974, but with no sensible pay offer on the table, Thomas Cook pilots have had no other option.
“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.”
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented: "Unions are often portrayed in the establishment gutter press as unreasonable. Yet these pilots have not had a strike since 1974 and have tried to resolve matters through conciliation. This in the face of what is, in reality, an offer from Thomas Cook of a pay cut not a pay rise. Think about our brothers and sisters in Balpa when next you read that it is the Unions who are unreasonable."