Passengers could face delays of up to 12 hours and flight cancellations next week when immigration officers go on strike following a row over public sector pensions.
Normand Boivin, Heathrow’s operating officer has said travellers may be held on aircrafts for their own safety.
He said: “Modelling of the impacts of strike action on passenger flows at Heathrow show that there are likely to be very long delays of up to 12 hours to arriving passengers”.
“The delays at immigration are likely to be so long that passengers could not be safely accommodated within the terminals and would need to be held on arriving aircraft”.
He added: “This in turn would quickly create gridlock at the airport with no available aircraft parking stands, mass cancellations or departing aircraft and diversions outside the UK for arriving aircraft”.
Gatwick have warned that passengers may need to rebook their flights due to possible disruptions at border zones. 18,000 immigration officials are expected to go on strike next week.
Scott Stanley, chief operating officer said: “Gatwick continues to work closely with the UK Border Agency and its airlines to ensure robust contingency measures are put in place to ensure disruption to passengers and airport operations is kept to a minimum”.
He added: “We would advise passengers to check with their airline to find out what plans and arrangements have been put in place. We recognise that this will be a challenging time for all airport passengers, and we would warn passengers to be prepared for the potential for significant disruption at the border zones on November 30”.
On November 30th more than two million workers will take part in a 24-hour walkout. In an announcement earlier this week civil servants from across Whitehall would be called in to cover for immigration officials, a move which has been criticised by trade unions.
Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh