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Strike By Aircraft Refuellers at Heathrow Airport Could Ground Hundreds of Flights Over the May Day Bank Holiday

Strike By Aircraft Refuellers at Heathrow Airport Could Ground Hundreds of Flights Over the May Day Bank Holiday

a large airplane flying in the sky

A strike by aircraft refuellers at Heathrow Airport could ground hundreds of flights over the upcoming May Day bank holiday after their employer imposed “drastic cuts to the terms and conditions” of new staff who have joined the company since January.

Some of the airlines that could be severely affected by the strike include Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines.

In total, 35 airlines could be hit by the walkout by around 50 refuellers who plan to stage a 72-hour strike beginning on 4th May. Other impacted airlines include Delta and United Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines.

The workers are employed by Aviation Fuel Services (AFS), a joint venture between four multi-million-pound oil and gas companies such as BP and Total. The Unite union claims AFS has created a two-tier workforce with new joiners getting reduced pension and sickness benefits.

“AFS is behaving appallingly by attacking the T&Cs of new members of staff – those it views as the easiest to intimidate,” slammed United general secretary Sharon Graham on Monday.

“Unite will not stand for such bully-boy tactics, and we will be backing our members in their fight for improved pensions and sick pay for all staff,” Graham continued.

This isn’t the first time that AFS workers have threatened to cause chaos at Heathrow after calling a 72-hour walkout in July 2022 that was only averted at the eleventh hour.

The Unite union has been quick to flex its muscles across the aviation industry in the last couple years and just the threat of damaging strike action has largely been enough to win big pay rises for aviation workers.

Unite’s regional officer, Kevin Hall, said AFS would be forced to answer directly to affected airlines if their flights are delayed or cancelled as a result of the strike action.

Although a large number of airlines could be hit by the walkout, AFS does not provide refuelling services to British Airways and BA flights will not be impacted by this proposed strike.

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