Heathrow Airport workers are going ahead with a ten-day strike causing travel disruption for thousands of passengers at the start of the Easter school holidays.
As many as 1,400 security staff from the Unite union have elected to walkout out for 10 days after they rejected the latest pay offer by the airport.
The union said talks broke down because Heathrow Airport Limited failed to substantially improve its 10 per cent pay offer, which comes after years of pay freezes during the Covid pandemic.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said that the airport could afford to give a decent pay rise to its workers.
“This is a wealthy company which is about to return to bumper profits. In recent years it’s approved an astronomical rise in salary for its chief executive and paid out dividends to shareholders worth billions”, Ms Graham said.
“Yet somehow, Heathrow executives seem to think it’s acceptable to offer what amounts to a real-terms pay cut to its security guards and ground staff who are already on poverty pay.”
Will my dates be affected?
Picket lines will be in place across Europe’s busiest transport hub throughout the 10 days of continuous strike action, which ends at 23.59pm on Easter Sunday April 10.
The strikes involves security officers at Terminal Five, which is used exclusively by British Airways, and campus security guards who are responsible for checking all cargo that enters the airport.
This means that anyone flying with the carrier from Terminal Five on outbound flights will likely face travel queues longer than usual, with subsequent knock-on delays to take off times a possibility.
Passengers travelling between Heathrow and the UAE are in the crosshairs as British Airways operates several direct flights between Heathrow and Dubai.
However, the airline does not fly directly to Abu Dhabi, so only those connecting will be directly affected.
Earlier this week it was announced that British Airways was required to cancel around 32 flights per day to and from Heathrow, or nearly 5 per cent of its daily flights these, due to the threat of the walkout.
The cancellations fell on short-haul routes and the long-haul services were not affected.
Airport ‘operating as normal’
The west London airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye said it is “operating as normal” despite the industrial action and expected passengers to have a “good journey”.
These claims will be put to the test as schools are expected to close for two weeks from Friday, meaning that airports will be busier than usual.
A total of 42 flights to and from Heathrow had been cancelled on Friday, according to the airport’s website.
Mr Holland-Kaye said that “experienced third party workers” have been hired to keep the airport “running smoothly”. Members working in other areas of the airport have also been moved across to fill the gaps.
He also warned that passengers should not arrive for their flights too early as that could result in further issues.
“Please don’t come too early. Three hours is plenty for a long-haul flight, two hours for a short-haul flight, and we will get you to your destination on time,” Mr Holland-Kaye said.
Data shows that the UAE was the most popular getaway during the February half-term for passengers flying from Heathrow Terminal Five. Dubai topped the destination list, followed by New York and Madrid.
A spokeswoman for Heathrow said passenger traffic between the hub and Dubai was 5 per cent larger in February compared to the same month in 2019.
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Updated: March 31, 2023, 11:59 AM