Passengers using London Heathrow Airport will experience disruptions, delays and cancellations this summer, according to the union Unite. In a “major escalation” of the pay dispute, it is calling for more than 2,000 security personnel to go on strike for 31 days from June to August.
Industrial activity at the UK’s busiest airport is timed to coincide with busy travel days for families, including the start of the main summer holiday in England and Wales, as well as like the August bank holiday weekend.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Passengers can rest assured that we will do everything we can to minimize strike disruption so they can enjoy their hard-earned summer break.”
But will your travel plans fall into disrepair this summer? These are the key questions and answers.
Who is stepping out, and when?
More than 2,000 security personnel working for Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) will be out of work for a total of 31 days in June, July and August. They are members of the union Unite, which has called for the strikes. work as follows:
- June: 24-25 and 28-30
- July: 14-16, 21-24 and 28-31
- August: 4-7, 14-11, 20-18 and 24-27
Officers are employed to search for security at Heathrow’s Terminals 3 and 5 as well as at airport checkpoints – this is a unit known as the “Campus”.
Terminal 3 is the hub for Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Qantas and some British Airways flights. Terminal 5 handles most of the BA as well as Iberian operations.
What will affect tourists?
Aviation analytics firm, Cirium, said a total of 20,163 flights were scheduled to depart from Heathrow on the day of the strike, taking up more than 4.4 million seats.
Unite said: “The departure of workers at Terminal 3 will leave a large number of airlines facing the risk of disruptions, delays and cancellations this summer.
“The widespread shutdown at Terminal Five will severely impact British Airways’ summer schedule.”
The other two terminals – 2 and 4 – will Are not affected by walking. Many airlines will operate as normal, including:
- Terminal 2: Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and United.
- Terminal 4: Air France, KLM and Qatar Airways.
What is being done to limit the impact of the strike?
Some simple measures can be put in place to reduce pressure on security checkpoints:
- Airlines allow passengers to check in hand luggage for free.
- Additional staff are deployed in front of the security search area to prepare each traveler: make sure their hand luggage complies with liquid regulations and laptops are removed. This will reduce the number of bags being “pulled” for detailed inspection.
Alternatively, there is a possibility that Heathrow could ask the airlines in Terminals 3 and 5 to reduce their schedules.
In the first wave of security strikes, as of Easter Sunday, BA canceled more than 300 flights to and from Heathrow’s stronghold of Terminal 5 at the request of the airport.
What happens if my flight is cancelled?
According to airline passenger rights rules, you have the right to be flown to your destination as close to the original time as possible.
If the airline booking the plane cannot carry you on the same day, but another airline has space, that airline must buy you a seat.
In addition, you must be provided with hotel accommodation and meals commensurate with the waiting time.
Will those returning to Heathrow be affected on strike days?
Only if flights abroad are canceled or severely delayed due to outages.
Can I change my flight to avoid the strike date?
Not at this stage, although some airlines may allow flexibility closer to departure.
Haven’t we been here before?
Correct. At Terminal 5, there was a 10-day strike from March 31 to Easter Sunday, which had little impact on tourists’ plans.
During that time, British Airways was asked by Heathrow to cancel one of its 20 flights. The sale of seats on other foreign flights has been blocked.
During the second wave of industrial action, in May, no cancellations were made and the airport was running smoothly.
However, the scale of the summer strikes is larger. The addition of Terminal 3 staff to the pedestrian zone, increasing the number of walks to more than 2,000, will stretch the resources that Heathrow management can deploy.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “We hope that the recent strikes have shown the disruption to be minimal, but that has not stopped people from worrying. and restless.”
What is behind the dispute?
Pay. The union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Unite is informing Heathrow that strike action at the airport will continue until it makes an offer of fair pay to its workers.
“Make no mistake, our members will have the unwavering support of the union in this dispute.
“HAL misplaced its priorities. This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is predicting bountiful profits and large sums of money to be paid to executives. It is also supposed to pay huge dividends to shareholders, but its workers barely make ends meet and are paid much less than workers in other airports.”
Heathrow said its shareholders have had no dividends since before the pandemic and no payout is expected in the current financial year.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Unite attempted but failed to disrupt the airport with unnecessary strikes on some of our busiest days and we continue to build on our plans. themselves to protect the journey in any future action.
“The simple fact is that the majority of colleagues do not support Unite strikes. There’s a two-year inflation-defying pay rise available to colleagues, if only Unite allows them to have a say.
“We will continue to negotiate with Unite about resolving this matter.”
Why doesn’t Heathrow offer more coins?
Compared to the damage caused by the strikes, it is arguably cheaper to raise the wage offer by a few percentage points.
But airport bosses are keen to make it clear that they will not be “arrested for ransom” by relatively small groups of workers. They feel they have made a fair offer of a 10 per cent plus £1,150 one-off.
Meanwhile, the union says that employees at Gatwick and Stansted doing the same demanding work will be better rewarded.