Live updates

All BA flights grounded at Heathrow and Gatwick

Severe delays at Heathrow and Gatwick Credit: Jodi Rilot

British Airways has cancelled all flights from Gatwick and Heathrow as computer problems cause disruption worldwide.

Passengers have been told not to travel to the London airports because of "extreme congestion" at the terminals, with all BA planes grounded before 6pm on Saturday.

We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide.

– BA spokesperson

Advertisement

Systems failure means passengers fly without luggage

There's been chaos for thousands of airline passengers at Gatwick when they had to fly out - leaving their luggage behind. Around 3,000 were bags delayed. It was caused by a breakdown in the baggage handling system - which had been recently upgraded. It was repaired by midday - but not before a massive backlog had built up.

Advertisement

More strikes announced: Air and rail passengers facing Christmas travel misery

Credit: PA

Industrial action by thousands of transport workers is set to cause misery over the next week with strikes at airports and the ongoing chaos caused by the Southern rail dispute.

Heathrow, Gatwick, Southampton and Bournemouth could be hit.

The action includes:

2,500 British Airways Cabin Crew involved in a row over pay. They will walk out on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

1,500 ground staff working for Swissport who check in and handle baggage at our key airports. The action is planed for next Friday and Saturday.

Hundreds of Southern guards and 1,000 drivers will continue industrial action causing major disruption into the New Year.

The announcement about the cabin crew strike came this evening. Both British Airways and the Unite Union have issued statements:

We have been informed tonight by Unite that it has called strike action by Mixed Fleet cabin crew on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

We are appalled that Unite proposes to disrupt customers' travel plans on such special days when so many families are trying to gather together or set off on well-deserved holidays.

This calculated and heartless action is completely unnecessary and we are determined that it will fail.

We will plan to ensure all our customers travel to their destinations so that their Christmas arrangements are not ruined. We will publish more details within the next 72 hours.

Meanwhile, we have also approached the conciliation service ACAS to seek their assistance in reaching an outcome that would avoid any possibility of disruption.

– British Airways

Our members have overwhelmingly voted for strike action because British Airways’ pay rates are indefensible and the crew are at breaking point. The airline’s boss Willie Walsh has pocketed €8.8 million and the parent company IAG reported profits of €1.4 billion.

Mixed fleet crew earn just over the minimum wage and below the national average. Significant numbers of crew are taking on second jobs, many go to work unfit to fly because they can’t afford to be sick. British Airways bosses need to wake up to the anger and the injustice here.

Not only are the pay rates indefensible but in aviation, low pay is a safety issue. 30 per cent of the Mixed Fleet crew have been with the company for just under a year. Crew simply can’t afford to stay. Inexperience, fatigue, and the fact that BA recently cut the length of crew training courses means Unite is genuinely concerned about the potential repercussions.

We urge British Airways to avoid this dispute and do the right thing by both the frontline staff and the travelling public, by engaging with Unite to negotiate a genuinely meaningful way forward.”

– Matt Smith, Unite regional officer

Baggage handlers vote for strike action in run up to Christmas

The 48 hour strike will start at midnight on December 23rd Credit: PA

Travellers at airports across the UK will be hit by two days of strikes as workers at Swissport, the world’s largest ground and cargo handler, go on strike for two days on 23 and 24 December.

Over 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, will walk out for 48 hours at 00.01 Friday 23 December in a long-running pay dispute, and plans that they say will seriously erode terms and conditions.

Unite today called on the management to take part in constructive negotiations in a bid to avoid Christmas travel disruption at the UK’s airports.

The airports affected will be Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, and Southampton and Stansted.

Load more updates