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Heathrow criticised for failing disabled passengers

Heathrow told it must improve its level of service for passengers who are disabled

Heathrow is under fire for failing in the service it gives to thousands of disabled passengers who use the airport every year.

It has been rated among the worst airports in the UK for disabled passengers and told it must improve.

A survey by the Civil Aviation Authority of thirty airports rated it in the bottom four with a "poor" rating. The regulator said the airport had "fallen short of expectations."

Gatwick and Southampton were rated good but failed to get into the very good catogory.

“UK aviation should be proud that it continues to serve a rapid increase in the number of passengers with a disability.

Our surveys, along with the airports’ own studies, have shown high levels of satisfaction among disabled passengers and we have seen some examples of excellent service where assistance is well organised and delays are minimal. However, East Midlands, Exeter, Heathrow and Manchester have fallen short of our expectations and we have secured commitments from them to make improvements. We will monitor their implementation over the coming months to make sure that services for passengers with a disability or reduced mobility continue to improve.”

– Richard Moriarty, CAA Director of Consumers and Markets

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Baggage problems cause disruption at Heathrow

Heathrow Airport is having problems with its baggage systems at terminals 3 and 5. Passengers are advised to pack essentials in their hand luggage - and check before travelling.

Heathrow Airport is advising passengers to prepare for disruption Credit: PA

"Heathrow is currently experiencing an issue with its baggage systems which is affecting airlines operating from terminal 3 and terminal 5. Other terminals are unaffected. This may mean passengers will travel without their bags and we advise them to pack essential items in their hand luggage. We are currently investigating the issue. We are sorry for the disruption and are working hard to get the system running as soon as possible."

– Heathrow Airport spokeperson

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

Man jailed for trying to smuggle £600,000 of heroin

Adam Wimana admitted importing 6.74 kilos of the Class A drug Credit: Border Force

A man has been jailed following the seizure of £600,000 worth of heroin by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport.

Adam Wimana, from Berkshire, admitted importing 6.74 kilos of the Class A drug, worth £630,000 and was sentenced to five years and fourth months imprisonment at Isleworth Crown Court.

He was also handed a two year Travel Restriction Order which come into effect on his release.

The heroin had a street value of £630,000 Credit: Border Force

British national Wimana, 46, of Peel Court, Slough, was intercepted at Terminal 4 on 11 January having arrived on a flight from Nairobi, where he had travelled from Zanzibar.

Officers searched one of his suitcases and noticed it remained heavy once the contents had been removed.

On examining it they discovered drugs concealed in the top and base of the suitcase. A field test provided a positive reaction for heroin.

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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.

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