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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

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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.

Heathrow third runway: 5,000 new jobs, 25,000 more flights - and a congestion charge

Heathrow Airport says it will create 5,000 new jobs over the next five years if it gets approval for a third runway. It also plans a controversial congestion charge and a ban on night flights before 0530.

The airport revealed radical expansion plans today ahead of a possible third runway that could open in 2025. The plans will be subject to consultation and Government approval.

It will also spent tens of millions of pounds on insulation and other measures to help reduce nose for residents.

Heathrow wants a third runway Credit: ITV News

Overall flight numbers will rise by 25,000 a year with four million more passengers. The airport says new technology will allow this without causing more delays for existing flights.

The airport says the measures will help keep Britain competitive after Brexit with new links from airports in the UK and around the world and it will help boost the economy.

The measures are dependant on a third runway being approved. Gatwick, meanwhile, wants its plans approved - for a second runway - rather than Heathrow.

Heathrow's flight path passes over homes in Berkshire Credit: PA Images

While the restriction on night flights will be welcome the 25,000 extra flights a year will be seen as extra noise and misery for hundreds of thousands under the flight paths by critics.

Here are the main points from the proposals to be implemented by 2021 ahead of a third runway being approved. Full details will be revealed at the Tory conference on Monday.

  • Estimated 5,000 new jobs.
  • £1.5 billion pound boost to the economy after Brexit.
  • 25,000 extra flights a year. New technology and better use of existing runways will achieve this.
  • Four million extra passengers a year.
  • Congestion charge considered. This could be a new drop-off charge, increased car parking charges or a scheme similar to congestion charging in London. This is to help reduce emissions, fund new public transport initiatives and ensure fifty per cent of passengers arrive by public transport by 2030.
  • No night flights before 0530 which is an hour later than at present
  • £60 million spent on noise insulation for homes under the flight path
  • New monitoring equipment to ensure noise levels are not broken.
  • Better facilities for cyclists, electric cars and green transport.

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New protest over airport expansion plans

Campaigners against new runways at Heathrow and Gatwick have been staging a new protest ahead of a government decision, expected in October. They held an Olympic style event with Heathrow awarded a pair of Gold ear defenders for making the most noise

It's claimed noise at both airports will massively increase if the plans are approved. A new opinion poll for Windsor and Maidenhead Council reveals 38 percent of local people oppose a third Heathrow runway with 34 percent supporting it. The rest said they had no preference.

Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

'No 3rd Runway' campaigners protest on eve of Heathrow's 70th birthday

Dozens of campaigners have staged a noisy but peaceful protest at Heathrow today against plans for a third runway at the airport.

The Government is considering two options for expansion. But it's claimed the 18 billion pound scheme would be an environmental disaster.

The protest comes on the eve of the airports 70th birthday. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports.

Campaigners against Heathrow's expansion stage protest

Protestors release balloons against plans for third runway Credit: ITV News Meridian
Campaigners protest on eve of Heathrow's 70th birthday Credit: ITV News Meridian

People campaigning against plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport have held a protest today on the eve of the airport's 70th birthday.

Critics say if it's given the go-ahead, the noise would be a disaster. 70 red 'No 3rd Runway' balloons have been released from the Green in Harmondsworth, the historic village that is threatened if a new runway is built.

Protestors release 'No 3rd Runway' balloons Credit: ITV News Meridian
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