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Union warns of Christmas travel disruption as baggage carrier closes operations

21 October 2016 09:14

Services at Birmingham, Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle airports could be disrupted

Services at Birmingham, Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle airports could be disrupted

A union is warning of travel chaos over the Christmas period at four major UK airports, unless a baggage carrier transfers staff to other companies.

Unite says it understands that Aviator planned to close its operations at Birmingham, Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle airports for financial reasons.

The Scandinavian firm will close its operations at the end of November, but Unite says it wants clarity about what it is planning to do to ensure smooth continuity of check-in, refuelling, and baggage handling services.

Unions urge firm to clarify future plans

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: "Unite will be seeking assurances from the company, airlines, other handlers and ultimately, the airports that there will be no compulsory redundancies

"It is a matter of serious concern for both our members and the travelling public that, so close to Christmas, most of the airlines have not announced where their baggage handling and check-in contracts are going.

"The airport owners and the airlines, which require these services for their planes to land and take-off efficiently, need to get their skates on to sort this out, without any detriment to the staff jobs, pay and conditions - otherwise Christmas travel chaos is on the cards."

An Aviator spokesman said: "We completely understand the desire for more clarity on plans.

"We remain in close co-operation with the unions as well as other stakeholders. Our focus is on maximising employment and meeting the needs of our airline customers while minimising disruption and we are working tirelessly to achieve that goal well in advance of the Christmas travel period."

Gatwick could see further chaos

Passengers flying from Gatwick Airport in the run up to Christmas could face further problems as unions threaten to strike over a pension dispute.

Workers are preparing to vote on whether to take industrial action in response to a decision by the company that owns Gatwick -Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) - to close the final salary pension scheme because of a reported £90 million shortfall.

Firefighters, maintenance staff and security crew are among the workers that will vote on strike action proposals.

Travellers with flights booked over the Christmas period should make sure they take out travel insurance so they are protected against flight delays and cancellations.