Holiday flights will run, BA chief says

Baggage handlers at British airports are set to go on strike over the Christmas period.

British Airways executives said Monday that the airline’s full holiday schedule can run, even if planned strikes of cabin crew and baggage handler unions proceed as planned.

There are separate union actions planned, with the Unite union calling for a 1,500-employee strike among Swissport ground staff on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24.

Meanwhile, Unite has called for a cabin crew strike for Dec. 25 and Dec. 26.

“We are making sure that this attempt to ruin Christmas for thousands of our customers fails,” BA Chief Executive Officer Alex Cruz said in a statement released Monday. “Over the weekend, we have been working on detailed contingency plans to ensure that we are able to operate our normal flight program from all our airports on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.”

The BBC reported Monday that talks between BA and cabin crew union representatives were continuing in attempts to avert a strike.

In the Cayman Islands, the Swissport employees’ strike – if it were to occur – would likely not affect anyone traveling to London’s Heathrow airport, since the airport baggage handlers here are not Swissport employees.

However, British travel agents warned of delays that could be caused with luggage arrival and retrieval, especially if passengers’ travel plans include airline trips to other U.K. cities after they have landed at Heathrow.

The Unite union strikes are threatened, in both cases, over wage disputes. The cabin crew strike involves staff members who joined the airline in the past six years.

Separately, pilots at Virgin Atlantic say they will take industrial action short of a strike on Dec. 23 in a dispute over union recognition.

Postal and railroad strikes have also been threatened in Britain during the holidays.

Story compiled from staff and wire reports.


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