Travellers to and from Britain are being warned to brace themselves for travel misery as workers at 18 airports threaten to walk out in a dispute over pay.
Cabin crew at British Airways say they will strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, while thousands of other workers, including baggage handlers, are also expected to launch industrial action over the festive season.
People hoping to travel to get to relatives for family Christmas celebrations from December 23 to Boxing Day are due to be affected. In total, more than 1,500 check-in staff, cargo workers and baggage handlers are set to walk out on December 23 and 24, which are the key dates for people trying to get home or travel in time for Christmas Day.
The strikes are set to go ahead at 18 airports across the UK in a long running argument about pay. Staff say they are unhappy about pay restructuring as well as pay for overtime being frozen. Workers are all from Swissport, which is the biggest ground and cargo handling company across the globe.
British Airways said it was “extremely disappointed” at the uncertainty its customers now faced. However, Unite said it was hoping talks conducted along with Acas could avoid the dispute from going ahead. It said strike action would only go ahead as a last resort if no agreement could be reached.
Unite has Swissport members at a large number of airports, including Stansted, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Heathrow, Gatwick, Glasgow, Bristol, Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Doncaster, Leeds and the East Midlands, meaning disruption could be widespread across Britain. Passengers who want to travel on the 23rd and Christmas Eve will find it very difficult to do so from an airport which is not affected by potential strike action.
Meanwhile, British Airways cabin crew say they are set to strike because their pay deal does not reflect what was promised in their job descriptions.