By Marcus Leach

Sir Richard Branson has warned pilots at Virgin Atlantic that a strike over a pay dispute would leave 'an indelible scar on the company'.

The Balpa union are set to meet later this week where they are expected to announce the dates of industrial action as pilots oppose a 4% pay rise.

Branson, writing to the pilots, said he was 'extremely sad' about proposed strikes and would happily meet the disgruntled pilots for private talks.

The pilot's beef centres around the fact they want a better deal than 4%, after several pay freezes in recent years.

"I have looked at the details of your offer and believe it is fair," Sir Richard said.

"From the company's point of view, possibly a little too fair."

Branson wants Balpa to arrange fresh talks with the airline's management as he looks to maintain the brand he worked so hard to create. His fear is that strike action would dent customer's trust in the company, and damage the 'unique and friendly culture at Virgin Atlantic.

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