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Heathrow Airport Says it’s Planning to Run a Full Schedule Despite Border Force Strikes and ‘Vast Majority’ of Passengers Won’t Notice a Thing

Heathrow Airport Says it’s Planning to Run a Full Schedule Despite Border Force Strikes and ‘Vast Majority’ of Passengers Won’t Notice a Thing

a man walking in an airport

Heathrow Airport said on Monday that it expects a busy Christmas and New Year travel season but reassured worried passengers that airlines still intend to operate their full schedules throughout December despite a wave of strike action by Border Force officers.

Some media outlets have reported emergency contingency plans drawn up by the government and airport operators that would have seen airlines forced to slash their schedules and cancel hundreds of flights as a result of the strike action.

“The vast majority of travellers will be unaffected by Border Force strikes,” a spokesperson for Heathrow said following a weekend of travel chaos, this time caused by a freezing cold weather snap rather than strike action.

“We are doing everything we can to protect a full flight schedule on strike days, so departing passengers should expect to travel as normal,” a statement from the airport continued.

Border Force officers represented by the PCS union have announced eight days of strike action over the Christmas period, with the first of two four-day walkouts beginning on Christmas Eve and ending on December 26. The second walkout will start on December 28 and last through to the end of New Year’s Eve.

Heathrow said hundreds of thousands of arriving passengers from the UK, EU, US and Canada will be able to use automated e-gates to bypass snaking immigration queues while other ‘contingency measures’ were being drawn up to keep the border open.

The PCS union has, however, slammed the British government’s decision to train hundreds of soldiers to take on the role of around 1,000 Border Force officers who will take part in the strike.

Union boss Mark Serwotka says its members have been offered a ‘pathetic’ 2 per cent pay rise and has demanded Home Secretary Suella Braverman “put money on the table, not soldiers in airports”.

Passenger numbers at Heathrow are expected to hit 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year and New York JFK is set to reclaim its crown as the top international destination from the West London airport this Christmas.

But while airport CEO John Holland Kaye sounded optimistic about the travel plans for the “vast majority” of passengers, the embattled airport boss conceded that some travellers who can’t use the border e-gates should contact their airline to see if they can travel on an alternative date.

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