December 15, 2022

Air travellers warned to expect “serious disruption” over Christmas

The home secretary has warned of “undeniable, serious disruption” for thousands of travellers over the Christmas period.

Around 1,000 Border Force staff are expected to go on strike for eight days between 23 December and New Year’s Eve at Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Gatwick, Heathrow (terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5) and Manchester airports, as well as at the port of Newhaven. With Christmas being a busy time at airports, the strikes are likely to lead to significant delays at passport control for those entering the UK.

Home secretary, Suella Braverman, has said there will be serious disruption caused to many thousands of people if strikes go ahead, and that people should think carefully about travel plans during the Christmas period. In an interview with broadcasters, she commented:

“I really want to urge people who have got plans to travel abroad to think carefully about their plans because they may well be impacted.”

The news of border control strikes came as the UK faces a growing wave of industrial action throughout December, with 350 ground handlers also taking part in strike action from 4am on 16 December for 72 hours, affecting flights operated by 10 major airlines from Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 4. Rail workers are also striking between 24 December and 27 December, amongst other dates, with only 20 per cent of services operating between the hours of 7:30am and 6:30pm.

This industrial action comes at the end of a year that has seen business travel and travel management companies facing some of the biggest challenges the industry has experienced.

Helen Cox, Director of Flight Operations at Travel Places, said:

“Our years of experience in complex group travel arrangements mean we are well versed in the importance of contingency planning and disruption management. Thankfully, many sporting calendars have entered a quieter period, so a number of our clients are now enjoying a well-earned break from travel. But we continue to support any clients who are still travelling for sport or entertainment events, doing what we can to prepare for any impact on their journey.

“Our advice to those travelling around the dates of industrial action – whether that is for business or pleasure – is to do what you can in advance to prepare for possible disruption. Keep a close eye on announcements ahead of your journey and leave yourself additional time, checking whether your travel routes are affected before you leave.”


List of travel-related strikes taking place in December:

  • Ground-handling staff at Heathrow Airport will strike for 72 hours from 4am 16 December. Airlines likely to be affected are Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair
  • Border force strikes are taking place between 23 to 26 December and again between 28 and 31 December at Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cardiff airports.
  • Nationwide rail strikes are taking place through December and into the beginning of January 2023.

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