Heathrow braces for Easter travel chaos with 10-day strike
Holidaymakers face chaos at Heathrow over Easter after security workers voted to hold a 10-day strike.
The strike will affect people flying in and out of Terminal 5 from March 31 to April 9 as 1,500 security guards exit the terminal, including those screening travelers and their luggage en route to departures.
British Airways passengers have been hit the hardest as the terminal exclusively serves flights operated by the airline. Organized by Unite the Union, the strikes also include campus security guards who are responsible for screening cargo across the airport.
Heathrow said it would implement contingency plans to keep parts of the airport open and operational. The Telegraph has reached out to British Airways for comment.
It came as passport workers announced a five-week strike in the run-up to the summer holidays, putting further pressure on travelers mirroring last year’s chaos.
More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working in passport offices in England, Scotland and Wales will take part in the action on wages, jobs and working conditions from April 3rd to May 5th.
Those working in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will be on strike from April 3rd to May 5th, while those in Belfast will be on strike from April 7th to May 5th.
The union said the action was a “significant escalation” of their longstanding dispute and warned it would likely have a “significant impact” on passport issuance as summer approaches.
Demand for outbound travel has recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Two-thirds of Britons are planning a holiday abroad in the next month, with more than a third (37 per cent) having already booked one, according to a survey of 2,000 adults by travel association ABTA.
It has now been a year since travelers have had to take a Covid test or fill out forms, with 62 per cent of respondents saying they have holidayed abroad in the last 12 months.
Increase in demand for passports
It coincides with passport chiefs expecting a similar surge in demand this year as last year when travelers delayed renewing their documents during Covid. Around 360,000 people had to wait longer than the normal 10-week target.
The heads of the passport offices make contingency plans and do not change their guidance that applicants can expect to get their documents back within 10 weeks.
Internal figures show that the passport office processed more than 1.67 million applications in January and February, of which 95.5 percent were processed within three weeks and 99.5 percent within 10 weeks.
Mark Serwotka, the PCS General Secretary, said: “This escalation of our action has come about because ministers, in sharp contrast to other parts of the public sector, have failed to hold meaningful talks with us, despite two massive strikes and prolonged, targeted ones Action that lasts six months.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Home Office will be working hard to manage the impact of this strike action to ensure it can continue to provide the vital service to the British public as you would expect ahead of the summer when we do so fully appreciate People want to get away and enjoy the summer with their family.
“Therefore we will do everything to mitigate the effects of the strikes.”