Elias Visontay

Firefighters at 27 Australian airports are planning to strike on Friday week, with passenger flights across the country set for four hours of disruption.

The United Firefighters Union aviation branch announced on Tuesday its members had voted to strike in protest over short staffing levels, safety and pay concerns amid months of disagreement with Airservices Australia over a new enterprise agreement.

The strike, planned to go ahead between 6-10am on Friday 9 December, could result in grounded flights, as aircraft are not permitted to land at an airport without firefighters on duty, while other airlines choose not to.

In response to the announced strike, Airservices Australia said it was disappointed to hear of the union’s planned action, and called its claims about safety issues “highly misleading”.

An Airservices Australia spokesperson said it would continue to negotiate “in good faith” with the union.

There is no shortage of aviation rescue firefighters in Airservices’ Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service at Sydney or at any other location. Airservices Australia’s staffing requirements for aviation rescue fire fighting services at 27 of Australia’s busiest airports are highly regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

We continue to meet all service requirements nationally to ensure the safety of airlines, airports and the travelling public – safety is our No 1 priority. Airservices will continue to work with industry and safety agencies to minimise disruptions to flights as a result of the industrial action.