Heathrow airport has warned some of its passengers that they may have to wait longer in line to go through security during the Easter holiday period because the airport was unable to reach a pay agreement with the unions that represent its security workers.
More than 1,400 security officers who are members of the Unite union and work for Heathrow Airport will begin a ten-day strike on Friday. The strike will end on the following Friday. On Thursday, eleventh-hour talks were unsuccessful, and no resolution was reached. At the beginning of the Easter school holidays, it could cause disruptions at the busiest airport in the United Kingdom.
Both those responsible for checking cargo and security at Terminal 5, which is exclusively used by British Airways, are participating in the strike. Unite has made the accusation that the airport has reduced wages in real terms.
Heathrow Airport Limited stated that it had provided a pay increase of ten percent, retroactive to the first of the year, in addition to a one-time payment of over one thousand pounds.
The airport maintains that it will continue to operate thanks to its contingency plans. However, the next few days are likely to be very busy because many people are leaving town for the Easter holiday. In addition, there may be a delay in passing through security due to the shortage of staff.
A strike was expected to take place at Heathrow, so the airport requested that airlines stop selling tickets and allow customers to change their travel dates. British Airways made the decision to cancel 300 flights in advance, and Virgin Atlantic acknowledged that it had a limited number of new ticket sales and had implemented a flexible policy.
The strike reduces the number of security personnel that are available to the airport on a weekend that is anticipated to have a high volume of passengers.
The airport has stated that it has backup plans to ensure that it continues to operate “as normal,” but it is likely that it will take passengers more time to get through security.
Heathrow announced that it would be sending an additional one thousand employees along with its management team to assist passengers.
Heathrow Airport is recommending to passengers that they check the status of their flight before traveling to the airport, arrive at Heathrow Airport no earlier than two hours before short-haul flights and three hours before long-haul flights, and be prepared for security checks.
In order to improve the flow of traffic at the security checkpoint, it is stated that travellers would only be allowed to bring two articles of hand luggage through.
The government and the industry regulator are putting pressure on the aviation industry as a whole to prevent a repeat of the long lines, delays, and cancellations that occurred around Easter of the previous year. These issues were mostly brought on by a lack of available workers.
According to a letter that was allegedly sent to businesses by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Transport but was only obtained by the BBC, the letter adds that it is unacceptable for customers to experience the same amount of inconvenience this year.
According to statements made to the BBC by airlines and airports, they are optimistic that they will have sufficient employees in place this time around; nevertheless, external variables like strikes in France that impact air traffic control could pose problems.