Virgin Atlantic has sacked 13 cabin crew after they posted less than complimentary comments about the airline and its passengers on Facebook.

The airline launched an investigation following on from allegations that the staff in question had used Facebook to criticise their employer.

In particular, they called passengers "chavs", said that the planes were full of cockroaches and alleged the airline's jet engines were replaced four times in 1 year.

In a statement, the airline said: "Virgin Atlantic can confirm that 13 members of its cabin crew will be leaving the company after breaking staff policies due to totally inappropriate behaviour".

"Following a thorough investigation, it was found that all 13 staff participated in a discussion on the networking site Facebook, which brought the company into disrepute and insulted some of our passengers."

"It is impossible for these cabin crew members to uphold [our] high standards of customer service ... if they hold these views."

A spokesman for the airline added to The Telegraph: "There is no justification for it to be used as a sounding board for staff of any company to criticise the very passengers who ultimately pay their salaries".

"We have numerous internal channels for our staff to feed back legitimate and appropriate issues relating to the company."

Meanwhile, a team of London Gatwick Ground Staff has also used the social networking site to vent their anger.

The group has created a Facebook page attacking, among other things, passengers who put their boarding passes in the mouth before handing them over to check-in staff, Heathrow's Terminal 5, "stupid American accents" and celebrity passengers.

A British Airways spokesman said: "We will be talking to the individuals concerned about their disappointing and unwise comments, which are totally unrepresentative of the vast number of hard working groundstaff we employ at Gatwick".