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Travel fears amid airport and pilot strikes

by Jonathan Adams

Airport staff, British Airways cabin crew and Virgin Atlantic pilots are among the latest workers set to strike over the festive period.

More than 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew at 18 airports who are employed by Swissport and members of the Unite union will strike first, for 48 hours from 23 December.

British Airways cabin crew, also members of Unite, will then strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Both strikes are over pay.

Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Stansted, East Midlands and Belfast airports will be affected by the first strike.

Others include – Aberdeen, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Newcastle and Southampton.

BA said it was “appalled” that around 4,500 cabin crew represented by the Unite union would strike and vowed to ensure passengers reach their destinations.

The airline promised that customers would get to their destination despite the action.

“This calculated and heartless action is completely unnecessary and we are determined that it will fail,” a spokesman said.

Speaking to Sky News, Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, defended both strikes.

Virgin Atlantic pilots have also voted to take industrial action over union recognition and will work “strictly to contract”, also from 23 December.

Their union, the PPU, said 88% of its members had voted in favour on a turnout of 80%.

The action will see a removal of “pilot goodwill”, with pilots working strictly to their contract.

“It is possible that this may leave some flights not covered,” said a statement from the union.

Virgin Atlantic said it was “disappointed” with the action but that it expected services to operate as normal.

It is the latest industrial dispute to flare in recent months, with strikes on Southern Railway over staffing, the Post Office over jobs, pensions and closures, and a work to rule on London Underground over jobs and ticket office closures.

Post Office workers will strike next week, including on Christmas Eve, after their union said an offer it made to resolve a row over jobs, pensions and closures was rejected.

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