American Airlines is facing the potential for serious disruption on its transatlantic flights between 10 U.S. cities and London’s Heathrow International Airport (HAL) after a small group of around 50 aircraft maintenance workers and crew chiefs voted overwhelmingly in favor of staging strike action in a dispute over pay.
Without any maintenance workers at hand at one of AA’s biggest international hubs, even the smallest technical defect could mean that an aircraft would have to be grounded.
The workers voted 98 per cent in favor of staging a walkout after rejecting an “appalling” pay offer that the Unite union claims amounts to a pay cut in real terms.
“Amid a cost-of-living emergency, American Airlines is proposing that our members accept a three-year pay cut,” slammed the union’s national general secretary Sharon Graham after the results of the ballot were revealed on Wednesday.
“That is simply unacceptable,” Graham continued. “As the strength of this vote shows, our members are rock solid and ready to strike for a fair deal”
American Airlines has proposed increasing pay for its Heathrow-based maintenance technicians by 5.3 per cent this year and then paying a lump sum next year. Pay would be frozen for the whole of 2024.
Crew chiefs, meanwhile, would only receive a 3.8 per cent pay rise this year and a lump sum in 2023.
American Airlines serves Heathrow with as many as 172 flights per week from 10 U.S. cities, and the union believes it would be difficult for the airline to source maintenance workers who hold the correct qualifications during any potential strike.
The 50 workers based at Heathrow are licenced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and are trained in the United States
To make matters even worse for transatlantic travelers, around 300 workers employed by United Airlines at Heathrow are also currently being balloted for strike action by the Unite union.
Workers including check-in agents, baggage handlers and operations employees are unhappy with a pay offer that falls below the 12.3 per cent rate of inflation. The ballot closes next Tuesday.
American Airlines has been contacted for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.