Chaos predicted for bank holiday as baggage handlers plan strike

The Easter holidays have begun, and whilst drivers have to contend with uncertainty at the pumps, those flying from Stansted Airport face strike action.

The Essex airport is facing the prospect of strikes by baggage handlers on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday.

Industrial action is predicted for the bank holiday week after 150 union members, employed by Swissport, passed a vote in favour.

The GMB (Britain’s ‘general’ union) union has said that changes to shifts will result in wage cuts of up to £1,000.

GMB official Gary Pearce said: ‘GMB members have voted overwhelmingly for strike action and for action short of a strike.

‘Up to now the company has been intent on imposing these changes without agreement and this is completely unacceptable, as this vote shows.

‘GMB has offered several alternative shift patterns and working arrangements but the company refuses to listen so far.’

He added: ‘Unless there is urgent talks and a settlement, this vote for action this will result in disruption over the Easter bank holiday weekend.’

A Swissport spokesman said last night: ‘At this time we can confirm the airport will be open as normal. Passengers should travel to the airport as normal and we expect no disruption to our services.’

On the roads, works have been stopped for the Easter holiday on some routes but many motorway restrictions will stay in place.

The suspensions will last from 6am on Thursday April 5 until midnight on Easter Monday April 9.

Christmas travel disrupted as strikes begin – check before you travel

Strikes in some European countries could affect travel during the holidays. Check our advice before you set off.

As the Christmas travelling begins, Britons heading to the Brussels by Eurostar have had their get-away plans affected by a strike in Belgium.

The 24-hour industrial action means trains are beginning and ending their journeys at Lille, in northern France. A limited service is then transporting passengers to Brussels.

France

Strike action by airport security staff is affecting flights to/from France. Check with your airline or travel company and allow plenty of time to get through security. Regular updates are being posted on the Twitter channel of the two main Paris airports and Lyon airport’s facebook page.

Eurostar’s London-Paris services are operating normally.

Belgium

A general strike is planned in Belgium for Thursday 22 December. The 24 hour strike will affect public transport and the rail system will stop operating from 10pm local time on Wednesday 21 December whilst other public services such as the metro will shut down on Thursday. Eurostar will be unable to operate services to and from Brussels during this period.Spain

The union representing pilots at Iberia Airlines has called for strikes on 29 December. Passengers are advised to check with the airline if they are due to travel on those days.
The latest information on the strikes and affected flights is available on theIberia website. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Portugal

The national train service will be severely affected from 23 to 25 December 2011 and again on 1 January 2012 due to a train drivers’ strike.

There will be minimum services running but if you are intending to travel by train please check before you travel to see if the service is being provided or by calling 808 208 208 (from abroad 00351 707 201 280)

Tunisia

A 24-hour strike at Enfida Airport is planned for 21 December.  You should contact your airline before travelling. Reports suggest the  will involve Ground Agents and Airport Staff at Enfida Airport. There are plans to blockade all roads into and out of the airport to cause maximum disruption.

Virgin pilots won’t strike

Holidaymakers travelling to the US and Caribbean for the summer break can breath a sign of relief – it has been revealed that Virgin Atlantic’s pilots’ will not be striking.

An offer has been secured, according to Union Balpa, and this will be put to pilots in a ballot possibly ending the strike.

Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: ‘Pilots have never wished to inconvenience the travelling public, especially those looking forward to summer holidays.

‘We have therefore lifted the threat of strike action. Virgin Atlantic pilots will proudly continue their role of flying passengers safely to their destinations.’

Virgin Atlantic said tonight: ‘We can confirm that negotiations are now concluded and Balpa will present a pay offer to its members over the coming weeks.

‘The threat of strike action has now been removed and our flying schedule remains completely unaffected.’

The strike threat has been lifted, which will leave the airline and travellers very happy. Balpa asked Richard Branson to get involved in negotiations, however he declined but did offer to speak privately to the pilots, after a high percentage voted for industrial action.

In a letter to the pilots, Sir Richard warned that unless Balpa withdrew its threat of a strike it would leave an ‘indelible scar’ on the airline and ‘impact customers’ trust in us and damage the unique and friendly culture at Virgin Atlantic.’


UK airport chaos as passport controllers join strike

 

Passport controllers have walked out to join the biggest strike for more than five years.

Brits are likely to face delays if arriving back in the UK today, the strike began last night when Border Agency staff did not turn up for work at airports around the country – leading to long queues at passport control.

To keep up with the flow of incoming travellers, managers attempted to fill spaces, but as airports become busier today queues are likely to grind to a halt.

Officials have said delays are likely for incoming passengers, but departures will largely be unaffected.

Managers have been trained to step in to conduct airport passport checks, while courts will prioritise the most urgent cases.

A spokesman for Virgin said: ‘Virgin Atlantic is working closely with the UK Border Agency to support their contingency planning and minimise disruption to our customers.

‘We will keep our passengers informed of the situation through text messages, advice at check-in and onboard announcements.’

On Gatwick Airport’s website, officials have posted a statement warning of potential delays: ‘Arriving passengers may experience delays at passport control today.

‘We are working with UKBA to keep all disruption to a minimum for our passengers, but please help us by having your passport and travel documents ready for inspection at passport control.’

Eurostar said it was ‘not affected’ by the strikes but had laid on two extra trains today between London and Paris.

STRIKE ACTION: WHICH AIRPORTS ARE AFFECTED

LONDON AIRPORTS: TRAVELLERS ARRIVING INTO HEATHROW, GATWICK, LUTON AND STANSTED COULD ALL FACE DELAYS

MANCHESTER: DELAYS POSSIBLE FOR INBOUND PASSENGERS

BIRMINGHAM: DELAYS POSSIBLE FOR INBOUND PASSENGERS

NEWCASTLE: ‘MINIMAL DISRUPTION’ IS EXPECTED

SCOTTISH AIRPORTS: DELAYS POSSIBLE FOR INBOUND PASSENGERS AT EDINBURGH AND GLASGOW. NO MAJOR DISRUPTION EXPECTED AT ABERDEEN

LIVERPOOL: DELAYS POSSIBLE FOR INBOUND PASSENGERS

SOUTHAMPTON: THE SOUTH COAST AIRPORT SAID IT ‘SHOULD NOT BE AFFECTED BY TODAY’S STRIKE’

(Source: www.dailymail.co.uk)

BA wont strike .. but talks continue over Virgin walkout

Traveling with BA this summer? You can breath a sign of relief as the two year long cabin crew dispute looks to be over.

However those travelling with Virgin have more to worry about. Virgin Atlantic pilots have so far refused to back down from the walkout and could ruin tens of thousands of family holidays this summer.

Hitting key long-haul routes, including flights to Disneyland in California and Florida, as well as the Caribbean, the Far East and Australia, strikes would be incredibly disruptive for many holiday makers.

Strike dates have not be revealed yet, but the first is expected to take place in July, with further walk outs to follow over the summer.

But there was better news for passengers today though, as BA’s union Unite balloted several thousand of its members, recommending acceptance of an agreement thrashed out between the two sides after 18 months of conflict.

The agreement includes a two-year pay deal and the return of travel concessions for thousands of staff who took part in 22 days of strikes last year, which cost BA £150million.

Sir Richard Branson’s airline said it was disappointed but was preparing ‘contingency plans’ to deal with any walk-out.

Travel industry experts condemned the strike as ‘disappointing and frustrating’.

Balpa chief Jim McAuslan said: ‘There has been no UK pilot strike for 32 years. But there comes a time when even moderate people say enough.

‘With no pay increase since 2008, a below inflation offer for 2011 and proposals for 2012 and 2013 that will be sub-inflation this is now a six-year attack on living standards which has not happened in any other UK airline.’

He added: ‘We do not want to inconvenience the public and hope that Sir Richard will use some of his undoubted flair to settle this.’

A spokesman for the airline said its pay offer was ‘industry leading’ and ‘double the national average for a UK business’.

He added: ‘We are naturally disappointed with the result of the ballot but remain committed to further talks with our pilots’ representatives to find a solution.’

BAA Strike Will Add to 2010 Airline Woes

Employees of BAA ( formerly British Airlines Authority) are threatening to strike, a move which could spell disaster for Britain’s tourism industry. The six airports owned and operated by BAA cover several of the UK’s biggest travel and aviation regions, and could result in thousands of missed flights and cancelled appointments if closure is the final outcome.

BAA was privatized in the late 1980s as part of efforts by the Thatcher government to minimize state control of assets. The company operates six airports within the United Kingdom and many more overseas, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. The closure of the company’s UK assets is projected to cost the travel industry tens-of-millions of dollars in lost revenue.

It’s also threatening to ruin thousands of holidays, particularly as the strikes are planned to occur during the nation’s peak tourism season. Unite union officials are aiming to avoid a strike, instead opting to negotiate for a more competitive pay deal directly with airport authorities. BAA’s offer of a 1% annual pay rise was rejected by the union, who claim that the workers deserve more.

Should the strike go ahead, it will be the second major setback for Britain’s travel industry. Delays and cancelled flights from the Icelandic volcano eruption have cost the industry several hundred million dollars already, with some of Europe’s largest airlines still involved in efforts to repay and reimburse those affected by the disaster.

With several leading travel firms teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, another setback could spell the end of commercial travel bookings. Recent strikes by British Airways and a lack of disposable income have already hurt the travel industry, resulting in missed revenue targets and several major bankruptcy cases. Approximately 35% of the involved employees support moves to strike.