The cancellation of another 1,500 British Airways flights and a strike by workers who refuel planes at Heathrow could wreak havoc on British summer holidays.
The airline warned on Tuesday that it would cancel additional flights in the coming weeks as it grapples with disruptions and staffing shortages, shortly before airport staff said they were ready to leave on the first weekend of the school holiday.
union solidarity Say Members employed by Aviation Fuel Services, one of four companies providing fuel services at Britain’s busiest airports, will go on strike for an initial 72-hour strike from July 21 to July 24 to resolve a pay dispute.
It warned that the strike would cause “considerable disruptions and delays” as the company serves nearly 70 airlines operating at Heathrow – although it added that “if AFS returns to the negotiating table”, There is still room for agreement.
The threat of extended strike action will add to troubles for airlines as they try to avoid a repeat of passenger delays and cancellations during half term in British schools last month.
BA’s operations at Heathrow will not be affected by any industrial action by AFS as it uses a different bunkering company. But the airline faces the prospect of a strike by about half of its Heathrow check-in staff, which could happen on the same weekend – although unions Unite and GMB have yet to set a date for any action.
British Airways said on Tuesday it would further reduce its summer flight schedule as aviation industry It is facing “the most challenging period in its history”.
It is also said to be reviewing whether to cut more flights later this week after the British government announced an amnesty that would force airlines to use or lose lucrative slots.
Bachelor of Arts making plans In May, it slashed flights by 10% during the summer period between March and October in an attempt to inject reliability into its flagging operations.
The airline has now decided to cut another 1%, which equates to about 1,500 flights, most of which will be cancelled this month.
By cancelling flights early, BA management hopes to avoid the last-minute disruptions that occurred at some British airlines earlier last month, which led to chaos when many passengers were told their flights were cancelled upon arrival at the airport.
Still, the need to lose more flights was a blow to the airline and chief executive Sean Doyle, who had hoped that a decisive move in May would allow the group to fully operate its reduced schedule.
British Airways is understaffed after cutting about 10,000 staff during the pandemic, but it has also suffered from broader resource problems facing the industry, including airports, subcontracted ground staff and air traffic controllers.
“As the entire aviation industry continues to face some of the most challenging times in its history, it is regrettable that further cuts will be necessary. We are reaching out to our customers to apologise and offer to rebook or provide a full refund,” The airline said in a statement.
Other airlines including easyJet and Lufthansa were forced to take similar action reduce their schedule After overestimating the number of flights they and their suppliers will be able to deliver this summer.