News in brief:
[SUSPENDED] The 3-day Heathrow refuelling strike starts today
EDIT: The strike has been postponed following a last minute pay offer yesterday evening.
Substantial disruption is expected at Heathrow from today due to a strike by refuelling staff. The strike will continue until the early hours of Sunday morning.
A revised pay offer made by Aviation Fuel Services this week has been rejected by staff.
British Airways is NOT impacted by this strike. It will impact KLM, Emirates, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, amongst others.
It isn’t clear how widespread the disruption will be. KLM, for example, should be fine – it can load additional fuel in Amsterdam to avoid refuelling at Heathrow. It isn’t environmentally friendly, due to the extra weight being carried, but it solves the problem.
Long haul airlines such as Virgin Atlantic do not have this luxury. Aviation Fuel Services is not the only refueller at the airport but it has a 50% market share of the non-BA business and there is believed to be limited extra capacity available.
The Unite union claims that staff at Aviation Fuel Services have not received a pay rise in three years, leading to a 15% fall in income in real terms. A 10% settlement was offered this week but rejected. Shareholders in Aviation Fuel Services include major energy providers such as BP.
Heathrow ‘to ask airlines to cut flights until November’
The Times reported yesterday that Heathrow has written to airlines asking them to make additional service cuts into the Autumn.
The present cap of 100,000 passengers per day is due to expire on 11th September. The airport is now keen to extend this to 29th October, the last day of the Summer flying season.
It is possible that Heathrow has decided that it isn’t worth recruiting staff at this point in the cycle. October half term is the last busy week of the year, apart from the Christmas spike. If passenger numbers can be capped over the half term period then the airport could arguably avoid having to return to historic staffing levels until Easter 2023.