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How Heathrow airport strikes could threaten your bank holiday travel plans



There are two strikes happening in April

Strikes will take charge of Heathrow Airport next month, threatening travel during the Early May Bank Holiday.

Planes could be grounded and flights delayed or cancelled at the busiest airport in London.

Two separate rounds of industrial action are planned from the beginning of May.

This is everything you need to know if you are planning to travel from Heathrow during this period.

What strikes are planned at Heathrow Airport?

Refuelers working for Aviation Fuel Services (AFS) are to take industrial action for 72 hours beginning on Saturday, May 4.

They are responsible for refuelling aircraft at Heathrow from 35 airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Emirates, Air France, Japan Airlines, Bulgaria Air and Rwanda Air.

People queuing to get through security at Heathrow Airport (Picture: Getty)

It is a Bank Holiday weekend – one of the busiest travelling weekends of the year.

Another strike will take place for almost a week, from Tuesday, May 7, to Monday, May 13.

This is due to a separate dispute involving members of Unite the union who work in passenger services and security.

Why are staff striking?

Refuelers say their employer imposed drastic cuts to the terms and conditions of new staff recruited since January 2024.

Unite accused AFS, a joint venture between oil and gas companies, of ‘bully-boy tactics’, saying it is attacking the ‘most vulnerable new staff’ in its workplace by offering them reduced pension and sickness benefits.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘AFS is behaving appallingly by attacking the T&Cs of new members of staff – those it views as the easiest to intimidate.

‘But 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.’

Another 800 of Unite members are planning to strike later in May due to what the union called ‘deplorable action’ from the airport’s management.

The union said workers in passenger services, who assist travellers to catch connecting flights, trolley operations, and security guards will have their jobs outsourced by June.

Ms Graham vowed to give striking staff ‘unrelenting support’, adding: ‘Heathrow Airport’s actions are deplorable.

‘It is raking in massive profits for the bosses while trying to squeeze every last penny out of its workforce.’

What is Heathrow Airport’s response?

Heathrow Airport is working on contingencies with AFS to manage any potential disruption during the Early May Bank Holiday.

It said it has ‘robust’ measures planned, adding that passengers can book flights from Heathrow with confidence.

Regarding the industrial action planned by staff in passenger services, a spokesperson said: ‘We are reorganising our operations to deliver better results for our customers.

‘There are no job losses as a result of these changes, and we continue to discuss with Unite the implementation of these changes for the small number of colleagues impacted.

‘Unite’s threats of potential industrial action are unnecessary, and customers can be reassured that we will keep the airport operating smoothly, just like we have in the past.’

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