Chaos looms at Heathrow as 170+ flights canceled – 30,000 passengers already affected

©Heathrow, T2A

While British Airways, whose main hub is London Heathrow Airport, is fighting to stave off an impending pilots’ strike, the carrier has been hit by impending strike action by Unite, the trade union representing security officers, firefighters and engineers at London Heathrow Airport.

Approximately 2,500 workers will miss their shifts during strike action due to take place on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 August and the airport has canceled in excess of 170 flights, despite the fact that last-minute talks were being held with Unite late on Sunday. Negotiations aimed at averting the industrial action had been held under the chairmanship of the conciliation service Acas, the same mediator acting in the dispute between British Airways and its pilots represented by the union BALPA.

The airport dispute centers on a pay offer of 7.3% over a period of two-and-a-half years. While there is still uncertainty which flights have been canceled, approximately 30,000 passengers will be directly affected, or 7% of departures and arrivals, with the airport averaging 220,000 passengers and 1,300 flights each day. Wayne King, Unite’s regional officer, said: “Heathrow faces a compensation bill in the region of £4.6m from airlines if the planned strikes go ahead. Rather than provoking the disruption that strike action will cause, we would urge Heathrow airport to use this money for an improved pay offer that better reflects the hard work of the workers who keep the airport running safely and smoothly.”

Heathrow Airport confirmed that contingency plans had been activated to keep the airport open on both strike days. “We expect security queue times to be slightly longer than normal and advise passengers to check our website for detailed information on how to prepare for their flights and when to arrive at the airport,” a spokesman said.

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