Travelers passing through London Gatwick Airport (LGW) have been told to brace for delays and cancellations ahead of ground handler strikes in the coming weeks.
Around 1,000 staff members at the busy United Kingdom hub will stage walkouts from July 28 to Aug. 1, and then again from Aug. 4 to Aug. 8. The strikes will take place during the beginning of the U.K. school holidays.
Gatwick Airport is expected to operate an average of 441 daily departures during the strike period, according to the aviation analytics company Cirium.
Unite the Union, which represents the workers involved, said “severe delays, disruption and cancellations” should be expected, affecting flights with several airlines, including British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Tui Airways and Wizz Air.
The wide-reaching strike will involve workers employed by four ground handler companies: ASC Cargo Handling, Menzies Aviation, Gatwick Ground Services and DHL Services Limited.
“Strike action will inevitably cause severe delays, disruption and cancellations across Gatwick’s operations but this dispute is entirely of the companies own making,” Dominic Rothwell, Unite’s regional officer, said. “They have had every opportunity to make our members’ a fair pay offer but have chosen not to do so.”
The union claims to have been negotiating with each company involved since January. Thus far, no agreement has been met to avert the strikes.
“Our members at Gatwick Airport undertake incredibly demanding roles and are essential to keeping the airport and airlines working, yet their employers somehow think it is acceptable to pay them a pittance,” Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, said.
“We are aware of the recent ballot result,” a Gatwick Airport spokesperson said. “London Gatwick will support the airlines affected, who hold the contracts with the third-party ground handling and check-in companies, with their contingency plans to ensure that as many flights as possible operate as scheduled.”
This most recent strike announcement will put further strain on the Sussex airport, which was rocked last week by EasyJet preemptively canceling 1,700 summer flights due to air traffic control delays.
Elsewhere, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, commonly known as Eurocontrol, earlier this month warned of its own mass walkouts, which could threaten up to a third of flights to and from the continent this summer. As yet, the dates of any impending Eurocontrol strikes have not been announced.
The U.K. once again looks set for a summer plagued by strikes at some of its major air hubs.
While Gatwick Airport is working hard to minimize disruption, if you’re traveling during this period, we’d advise arriving at the airport promptly and checking the status of your flights with your airline on the day of travel and the days leading up to it.