Border force to walk out this week as Christmas chaos to hit UK airports
Millions of Britons will need to brace for additional chaos during the festive season as Border Force staff at several UK hubs are set to down tools.
Around 1,000 members of the union PCS will strike at the likes of Heathrow and Gatwick between 23 and 26 as well as 28 and 31 December after rejecting a two per cent pay deal.
According to multiple reports, passengers could be forced to wait aboard planes to avoid overcrowding in arrival halls as queues could last longer than two hours during the peak period.
“Border Force are talking about moving staff around the country but it is a very busy period,” a source told the Times. “Delays of two hours at the border are being routinely discussed in meetings.”
A Home Office spokesperson warned passengers to plan before they travelled.
Figures from aviation analytics firm Cirium show that over two million airline seats will be impacted by the disruption – 1.5 million of which will be at Heathrow and Gatwick.
Paul Smith, consumer director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, called on airlines to “do that they can” to minimise disruption including “proactively providing passengers with updates and information about their rights when flights are disrupted.”
“In the event of delays and cancellations, airlines have an obligation to look after their passengers,” Smith said.
To mitigate the strikes’ impact on travellers, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic reportedly stopped selling tickets on strike dates, while Heathrow and Gatwick said they remained in constant contact with Border Force.