Irish travellers face disruption as British airports to go on strike

Baggage handlers and British Airways cabin crew are to down tools

Irish travellers face disruption as British airports to go on strike

British Airways A380 | Image: British Airways

Irish people travelling home for Christmas are being warned of potentially mass disruption to flights.

This is due to strikes planned at several British airports, as well as the UK national carrier British Airways.

The airline says it plans to operate a full schedule over Christmas, despite the planned strike by cabin crew.

"We are making sure that this attempt to ruin Christmas for thousands of our customers fails," BA chief executive Alex Cruz said.

"Over the weekend we have been working on detailed contingency plans to ensure that we are able to operate our normal flight programme from all our airports on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day (St Stephen's Day)."

Cabin crew at the airline are set to strike over pay levels after voting 79% in favour of the action.

Since 2010, all British Airways new cabin crew employees have joined the 'Mixed Fleet'.

The trade union Unite says earnings were advertised between stg£21,000 (€24,964) and stg£25,000 (€29,720) - but say that in reality start at just over stg£12,000 (€14,266) plus stg£3 (€3.56) an hour flying pay.

The crew has rejected a 2% pay offer.

"The managers have also endured a six year pay freeze. Meanwhile, Willie Walsh pocketed €8.8m. British Airways and the parent company IAG reported profits of €1.4bn, up 64% on last year", Unite adds.

However talks between Unite and British Airways were scheduled to take place Monday.

Unite General-Secretary Len McCluskey said: "I am delighted that British Airways has heeded our calls for talks. It is only by getting round the table that we can find a solution to my members’ concerns."

While over 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew members of Unite will also walk out for 48 hours from December 23rd in a long-running pay dispute.

Workers at Swissport, the world's largest ground and cargo handler, will strike at Belfast, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Stansted airports.

Sky News reporter Enda Brady told Newstalk Breakfast the UK conciliation service, Acas, has offered some hope.

"The two sides meet today...they will sit round the table for a few hours this morning and try and hammer out some sort of an agreement that will mean that the strike does not go ahead".

"If you're aiming to fly out of Heathrow next weekend I would say give it until lunchtime today - and if word comes back that the strike is definitely going ahead, make alternative arrangements.

"But I do think, having made this journey myself for the last 23 years, I think most people will be home and hosed and in a pub hopefully by Christmas Eve."