Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, which represents workers at airline Flybe, has revealed that the union raised concerns about the water supplied to flight crew several times, before a contaminated batch led to disruption to flights this week.

The problem this week was a result of a batch of water that staff had been drinking for several days, which was found to be potentially contaminated with E.coli when several of the crew who drank it developed stomach upsets.

Contaminated water

When Flybe was made aware of the potential contamination on (Wednesday 23 October), the crew who had drank the water were grounded in case they became incapacitated during a flight, which is what caused the disruption to flights.

Unite reps have raised concerns about the water supplied to flight crews, as it was found to contain high levels of sodium.

Two pence extra

Unite recommended changing to a different brand but this was rejected due to the catering supplier wanting an additional two pence a bottle to change brands.

The supply of water is critical for staff on flights as they are recommended to drink one 500ml bottle per sector, with crew often flying six sectors per day.

Crews at Flybe have now been supplied with water from a different brand and Unite will be working with Flybe to agree a long-term solution to ensure that the health of flight crews is not put at risk and disruption to flights is avoided in the future.

Serious health matter

Unite regional officer Peter Coulson said: “This was a serious health matter, which caused severe disruption and could have easily been avoided.

“Unite has raised concerns about the quality of the water supplied to the crew and put forward a sensible alternative.

“Flybe’s management must be ashamed that a refusal to spend just two pence extra on bottled water led to such a serious flight disruption this week.

“Unite will now be working with Flybe to ensure that this problem is resolved and that water supplied to all crew members is safe.”


Notes to editors:

 For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.