UK airport strikes: travellers warned of Christmas disruption

Border Force workers are set to take action at a number of airports across eight days

Travellers in the United Kingdom have been warned to expect cancellations and delays around Christmas as strikes cause disruption.

Affected airports have voiced their disappointment at the industrial action due to be taken by Border Force workers at Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff across eight days from December 23rd to New Year’s Eve.

Some flights are likely to be cancelled, according to Manchester Airport, and the Airport Operators Association (AOA) said if the strikes cannot be averted then “concrete and deliverable contingency measures” must be put in place.

Gatwick Airport said there will be additional staff around on strike days “to help with passenger welfare”.


A spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that Border Force staff have decided to take strike action at this particular time. We hope that a settlement to this dispute can be found as quickly as possible.

“We expect that flights will operate as normal and remain in regular contact with Border Force about their mitigation plans. Additional airport staff will also be made available to help with passenger welfare on strike days.”

Heathrow Airport said it will put in place “mitigation plans” on the affected days but noted Home Office advice that immigration and customs checks might take longer during peak times.

Manchester Airport said it would work with airlines to ensure passengers have as much advance notice of cancelled services as possible and warned of “much longer immigration queues”.

Cardiff Airport said it is planning to remain open and operational throughout the strike period and that it expects the Home Office to have “suitable measures in place to maintain safe secure border operations”.

A spokesperson for the AOA said: “The decision of Border Force staff to take industrial action is disappointing and we urge Border Force, the Home Office, and all Government departments to get back around the table to resolve these strikes before they begin or put in place concrete and deliverable contingency measures to keep the border operating smoothly.”

Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick said: “The union’s decision to strike over the festive period is unjustifiable and will ruin the plans of thousands of families and businesses across the country.

“While we are working closely with all UK ports and airports and have robust plans in place to minimise any delays if strike action goes ahead, passengers should be prepared for their plans to be severely disrupted.

“Those intending to travel over strike days should keep up-to-date with the latest advice from operators before making journeys this Christmas.”

Elsewhere, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union are due to strike on a number of days in December and January. – PA