Heathrow Airport chaos could continue as American Airlines’ engineers vote in favour of strike action.
More than 50 maintenance technicians and crew chiefs are set to walk out after 98 per cent voted to strike over pay. This could impact American Airlines’ 23 daily departures from Heathrow.
Strike dates will be announced in the coming days if mediation efforts are unsuccessful.
Why are American Airlines’ staff striking?
The engineers are unhappy with a three-year pay offer proposed by American Airlines.
In the first year, technicians would receive 5.3 per cent rise and crew chiefs 3.8 per cent. In the second year, all workers would receive a lump sum cash payment, while in the third year a pay freeze would be implemented, according to Unite the Union.
The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 9.9 per cent in the 12 months to August 2022, and inflation is projected to get worse in the coming years.
Unite points to American Airlines’ record revenues as proof the pay offer is unfair.
The airline reported a second-quarter revenue of €13.6 billion reported in July 2022 – a 12.2 per cent increase over the same period in 2019, despite flying 8.5 per cent less capacity.
“Amid a cost-of-living emergency, American Airlines is proposing that our members accept a three year pay cut. That is simply unacceptable,” says Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.
“American Airlines has boasted of its strong growth and post-pandemic rebound so let’s see that translate into a better deal for the workforce.”
Which flights could be affected?
American Airlines runs 23 daily departures from Heathrow.
These cover US destinations including Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, LA, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.
The aircraft that fly these routes are maintained, repaired and certified for airworthiness by the workers proposing strike action.
“American Airlines’ passengers are facing severe disruption because the company is offering a significant pay cut. American Airlines must return to the negotiation table with an offer our members can accept,” says Unite regional officer Joe McGowan.
American Airlines hopes to avert strike action
In response, American Airlines says “We’re committed to making sure all of our team members are paid well and competitively.
We’re disappointed we haven’t yet been able to reach a pay agreement with Unite that will ensure our London-based Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMT) continue to receive industry-leading pay, but we remain committed to reaching an agreement as quickly as possible.
There is no impact to our London maintenance operation and we look forward to continuing to serve our customers.”
The airline is in mediation with Unite to resolve the situation and avert strike action.
News of the proposed strike comes just days after Heathrow announced an end to its passenger cap on 29 October. The cap aimed to limit queues, baggage delays and flight cancellations after the industry struggled to cope with the rebound in travel post-pandemic.
Around 300 Unite members employed at Heathrow by fellow US airline United Airlines may also go on strike over pay, with a ballot for industrial action closing on 11 October, according to Unite.
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