Friday 24 June 2022 07:54 AM UK airports chaos: Long queues at Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham amid BA ... trends now

Friday 24 June 2022 07:54 AM UK airports chaos: Long queues at Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham amid BA ... trends now
Friday 24 June 2022 07:54 AM UK airports chaos: Long queues at Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham amid BA ... trends now

Friday 24 June 2022 07:54 AM UK airports chaos: Long queues at Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham amid BA ... trends now

Britons heading abroad once again endured huge queues at UK airports this morning - with the situation only set to get worse during the summer holidays after British Airways staff based at London Heathrow voted to strike.

More than 1,200 Heathrow check-in and ground-handling staff voted for industrial action yesterday in a row over pay. The GMB and Unite unions are expected to set strike dates for around July 22, when the school break begins.

They vowed only to call off the action if BA meets their demands within a week or so. If the BA walkouts go ahead, families could be forced to delay or cancel holidays – and face being stuck abroad if flights home are axed. 

Unions only have to give two weeks' notice of strikes. Customers whose flights are grounded will be entitled to receive a refund or be rebooked on an alternative flight on their day of departure, even if it is with a rival carrier.

But with airlines cutting their schedules due to staff shortages and airport flight caps, it is unclear whether there would be enough seats. It will inflict a huge financial blow on BA, which lost billions of pounds in the pandemic.

Some 550 BA flights a day take off and land at Heathrow, but this is expected to rise in the summer - and the airline is now drawing up emergency plans to keep as many flights as possible on strike days. Around half of these are short haul and the other half longer distance - and the action threatens to ground hundreds of flights in total.

It comes as passengers faced big queues at Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham airports once again today - with one at the latter tweeting this morning: 'Congratulations Birmingham Airport, you now have a queue that folds three lengths of the airport! Second time this week you have failed your #SLAs [service level agreements].' 

MANCHESTER AIRPORT - Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport's Terminal 2 today as airport chaos continues

MANCHESTER AIRPORT - Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport's Terminal 2 today as airport chaos continues

BRISTOL AIRPORT- Once again holidaymakers flying from Bristol Airport experience lengthy queues before 4.30am today

BRISTOL AIRPORT- Once again holidaymakers flying from Bristol Airport experience lengthy queues before 4.30am today

BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT - Huge queues to get into Birmingham Airport this morning as Britons head abroad on holidays

BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT - Huge queues to get into Birmingham Airport this morning as Britons head abroad on holidays

MANCHESTER AIRPORT - Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport's Terminal 2 today as airport chaos continues

MANCHESTER AIRPORT - Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport's Terminal 2 today as airport chaos continues

BRISTOL AIRPORT- Two holidaymakers sleep on chairs at Bristol Airport today as the airport chaos continues in Britain

The dispute is over a 10 per cent pay cut which check-in and ground-handling staff took during Covid as airlines tried to stay afloat. Unions want full pay reinstated amid cost of living pressure and surging passenger numbers.

Staff say senior managers have had their full pay restored. BA offered a one-off 10 per cent bonus, but this was refused. Talks between officials on both sides continued yesterday. 

Train service disruption continues after strike

Train services will continue to be disrupted today because of a deadlocked dispute over jobs, pay and conditions - which has caused travel chaos all week.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 13 train operators went on strike on Tuesday and yesterday, with a third walkout planned tomorrow.

The disruption will continue today, with only 60 per cent of trains running, mainly because of a delay to the start of services as signallers and control room staff will not turn up for overnight shifts.

Members of the drivers' union Aslef on Greater Anglia walked out on Thursday in a separate dispute over pay.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association is balloting hundreds of its members at Network Rail and several train companies for strikes.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: 'Our members are leading the way in standing up for all working people trying to get a pay rise and some job security.

'In a modern economy workers need to be properly rewarded for their work, enjoy good conditions and have the peace of mind that their job will not be taken away from them. Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary) needs to get in the room or get out of the way so we can negotiate with these companies who we have successfully struck dozens of deals with previously.

'What we cannot accept is thousands of railway workers being thrown on the scrapheap after being praised as heroes during Covid. RMT will continue its industrial campaign until a negotiated settlement is reached.'

Talks have been held throughout the week, but there is little sign of a breakthrough.

Speaking on the BBC's Question Time, Mr Lynch said: 'The companies have told me face-to-face they could achieve a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies', but added they 'are not being allowed to'.

'They won't write it down on a piece of paper and give it to us as a commitment,' he said, to which Conservative MP Rachel Maclean replied: 'No organisation can give that guarantee'.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson branded the strikes a 'terrible idea' and insisted there is 'no point' having railways that are 'so uneconomic' that ticket prices are prohibitive to passengers. He also defended dealing public sector workers real-term pay cuts while giving pensioners rises in line with soaring inflation.

Speaking to reporters travelling with him in Rwanda, he said: 'We've got to make the railways run economically for the very benefit of the railway workers themselves and their families. There's no point having a railway system in this country that's so uneconomic that you keep having to put ticket prices up and you have to drive more and more people off the railways. You can't go on with practices like walking time, with ticket offices that sell very few tickets. You need to modernise.'

The statutory instruments (SI) set to change the law to enable businesses to supply skilled agency workers to plug staffing gaps during industrial action will be laid on Friday and Monday, Downing Street has said.

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It is the latest blow for an industry which has struggled to ramp up operations as passenger numbers recover.

After carriers slashed thousands of jobs during the pandemic, hundreds of flights have been delayed or cancelled, huge queues have formed at airports and travellers have been forced to wait four hours or more for luggage.

The problems have largely been due to staff shortages after carriers slashed thousands of jobs during the pandemic.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: 'With grim predictability, holidaymakers face massive disruption thanks to the pig-headedness of British Airways.

'BA have tried to offer our members crumbs from the table in the form of a 10 per cent one-off bonus payment, but this doesn't cut the mustard.

'Our members need to be reinstated the 10 per cent they had stolen from them last year with full back pay and the 10 per cent bonus which other colleagues have been paid.

'GMB members at Heathrow have suffered untold abuse as they deal with the travel chaos caused by staff shortages and IT failures.

'At the same time, they've had their pay slashed during BA's callous fire and rehire policy. What did BA think was going to happen?

'It's not too late to save the summer holidays - other BA workers have had their pay cuts reversed.

'Do the same for ground and check-in staff and this industrial action can be nipped in the bud.'

She also told BBC Radio 4's PM programme yesterday: 'I would imagine there will be action during the summer holidays'.

Asked if she would book a flight in late July, August or early September, she replied: 'Not at this stage'.

She said the union's members have faced a 10 per cent pay cut as a result of BA's 'unethical approach during the pandemic'.

'They want that pay to be reinstated,' she added.

Members of the GMB voted by 91 per cent in favour of industrial action while Unite said 94 per

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