Three British Airways (BA) aircraft crew members became ill – with one needing hospital treatment – during a toxic cabin air incident last week.
The incident happened during a BA Amsterdam to Gatwick flight last Tuesday.
The aircraft’s first officer vomited twice after removing an oxygen mask put on because the cockpit had been contaminated.
The cabin crew manager also vomited, while the day after the captain had to go to hospital because of a severe headache.
Also on Tuesday, emergency services were called to meet another BA flight, this one from Venice, on the runway at Gatwick airport due to a fume event onboard.
Since January, 291 contamination events have been reported on BA flights.
A BA source who wanted to remain anonymous said that some crew are “scared” to go to work because of the fume events.
Unite has long been campaigning to force the airline industry to acknowledge such “fume events” and take action.
The union has also served toxic cabin air claims against a number of airlines.
The issue under scrutiny is whether pumping compressed air directly from air-craft engines into cabins to pressurise them – a practice that occurs on every jet-liner in operation except the Boeing Dreamliner – has adverse health implications.
Research suggests that taking air from the engines, known as bleed air, can contaminate the air passengers breathe with oil and hydraulic fumes and lead to potentially fatal illnesses in those who are exposed regularly, such as onboard crew.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said, “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.
“We would urge anyone involved in a fume event to log it on our fume event register.”