Unite has renewed calls for an inquiry into toxic cabin air after nearly 200 British Airways passengers had to be evacuated after their aircraft filled with smoke.
The flight from London Heathrow on Monday (5 August) was minutes away from reaching its destination of Valencia when smoke began pouring into the cabin.
After an emergency landing at Valencia, cabin crew evacuated the passengers – three of whom were taken to hospital and later discharged.
Passenger Gayle Fitzpatrick, from Glasgow, described the terrifying scene to PA Media.
She said, “It was very scary. The flight was just ending, and with 10 minutes to go, it started descending rapidly as smoke started to fill the cabin.
“The crew… started to wear full oxygen masks and protective fire wear. Eventually they managed to open the emergency doors and told us to go down the chutes. There were fire engines waiting and then we were all ushered into a bus to the airport.”
Analysis by toxic cabin air campaigners suggests the same plane involved in Monday’s incident suffered two prior fume events in June leading to the aircraft being grounded.
The analysis of industry sources also suggests that were over 40 fume events in June this year.
Unite is currently supporting 51 high court actions against five UK airlines after independent expert evidence concluded that the air in most commercial airline cabins can contain a toxic mix of chemicals and compounds.
The union backed claims allege that expert medical evidence shows long term exposure to contaminated cabin air or to high dose ‘fume events’ can lead to pilots and crew members developing chronic ill health and life threatening conditions.
‘Brushed under the carpet’
Unite assistant general secretary for legal affairs Howard Beckett said, “Far too often fume events like these go unreported and are brushed under the carpet by the airline industry. This latest fume event only came to light because members of the media were on board the flight.
“The airline industry cannot continue to hide from the issue of toxic cabin air whilst placing the health and safety of aircrew at risk. We need a public inquiry into the extent of fume events and toxic cabin air. The airline industry must start to take responsibility and clean up the cabin air on jet planes.”
Unite urges anyone involved in a fume event to log it on the union’s fume event register.