Majority of travellers will be unaffected by Border Force strikes, says Heathrow boss

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Bosses at the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, say they intend to operate all flights scheduled during a pending strike by PCS union members who work for the UK Border Guard.

Heathrow is by far the largest airport affected by the shutdown, which will last from 23 to 26 and 28 to 31 December inclusive.

The strike is part of a dispute over wages, pensions and job security.

Military and civilian volunteers are being trained to replace the officers who routinely check arriving passengers’ passports, but they will not be able to provide the same level of service.

Home Secretary Swella Braverman warned passengers that the strike could cause serious problems. But the Heathrow boss says outbound flights and the vast majority of arrivals will not be affected.

Airport chief executive John Holland-Kay said: “We are doing our best to maintain full operating schedules during the days of the border strike and outbound flights, and the vast majority of inbound flights should not be affected.

“On the busiest days, we have extra people in the terminals, including myself and my management team, to ensure we get people on the road as smoothly as possible and start bringing joy back to travel.”

As Granthshala As it turned out, Heathrow would feel the consequences most keenly on the first day of the strike. Flight data specialist Cirium estimates that 583 flights for 126,700 seats are scheduled to arrive at Heathrow on December 23.

Granthshala understands that the timing of some arriving flights may be subject to change to more evenly distribute arrivals throughout the day. More than 50 intercontinental flights are due to arrive at Heathrow before 7am, representing around 12,000 passengers.

Some arrivals, especially those from North America, may be subject to change times to land a few hours later.

As with all airports, Christmas will be the quietest of the strike days, with just 83,400 passengers on 352 flights. But Heathrow is back in full force from December 28-30. Every day it will take about 125,000 passengers on 575 flights.

Other airports affected by the strike include Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff.

Meanwhile, UPC General Secretary Mark Servotka criticized the use of military personnel and women to check passports.

He said: “Our border guards are specialists in their fields and cannot be replaced by people who have only had a few days of training.

The interior minister says she is “unwilling to compromise on border security” but is happy to use untrained military personnel to quell the workers’ strike.

“Our members were offered a measly 2 percent pay raise, one of the lowest offers in the economy. If she is serious about resolving this dispute, she should put money on the negotiating table, not uniformed soldiers at our airports.”

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