Heathrow faces another summer travel chaos as staff go on strike in July

Heathrow Airport faces further chaos this summer after workers who fuel planes voted to wage a 72-hour strike and 1,500 British Airways flights were cancelled.

Aviation Fuel Services (AFS) workers supported a strike on July 21 over a refusal to raise wages, union Unite said. It added that this will likely result in “significant disruption and delays across Heathrow”.

AFS, a joint venture with fuel companies like BP, provides fueling services for over 70 airlines at the airport, including Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, United, SAS, Air France, Emirates, Delta, JAL, KLM and Singapore Airlines.

British Airways, which is canceling flights for up to 105,000 holidaymakers from Heathrow and Gatwick this month, is unaffected as it uses a different carrier.

In May, British Airways announced it would cancel 10 per cent of flights between April and October to avoid having to cancel flights on the day of departure.

But now the timetable has been reduced by 11 percent. The additional 1 percent equals 1,500 flights. New flight cancellations were first reported by The Telegraph on Tuesday, and 650 are due to be canceled from Heathrow and Gatwick in July alone.

The vote was announced as airline and rail passengers brace for an unprecedented summer of strikes as workers across the travel industry protest over pay and conditions.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), which represents station and ticket offices, also said on Tuesday more than 300 CrossCountry trains and East Midlands Railway workers will go on strike over pay, jobs and working conditions.

The move comes as more than 90 per cent of train services across the UK are forced to be canceled later this summer as drivers threaten their first national strike since 1995.

Aslef, the drivers’ union, will vote on industrial action at 10 rail companies to coincide with similar actions by the TSSA.

It follows industrial action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union last month that sparked the biggest disruption to Britain’s railways in a generation.

Aslef head Mick Whelan warned of “massive” disruption, telling the Financial Times: “It will be far more disruptive than in the past. We don’t often go on strike.”

Unite has also announced that 2,400 Royal Mail managers will be at work from 15th to 19th July and will go on strike on 20th, 21st and 22nd July. The strike was called over plans to cut 700 jobs and cut wages by £7,000, Unite said.

A Heathrow spokesman said the airport is in discussions with airlines about contingency plans, “including using other fuel suppliers already operating at the airport”.