As a result of a strike by UK Border Force workers, passengers traveling at several of UK’s busiest airports over the holiday season may be subjected to long lines and the possibility of Christmas flight cancellations.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has scheduled industrial action beginning on December 23 and lasting until the end of the year, except December 27.
It coincides with extensive railway walkouts since the RMT union has planned twelve strike dates between December 2022 and January 2023.
In a disagreement about wages, employment, and working conditions, those who regularly check passports and evaluate incoming passengers will walk off the job at the three largest airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester. They will also be a strike in Birmingham, Cardiff, and Glasgow Airports.
All other UK airports are very unlikely to be impacted.
At less congested airports (including the tranquil port of Newhaven, where Border Force agents are also expected to walk out), there will be long lines, but operations will not be significantly disrupted.
On December 23, only incoming passengers will be impacted; security procedures may take much longer.
At the best of times, Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester are hyperactive airports with little space and little system slack. It is possible for lengthy lines at passport check to form, resulting in travelers being prevented from disembarking and contributing to the overcrowded at Arrivals.
A spokesperson for Manchester airport says: “We expect it will be necessary for airlines to cancel some services on the days impacted by strike action to ensure the number of arriving passengers aligns with lower UK Border Force resources.
“We will be working with our airlines to provide passengers with as much advance notice of canceled services as possible so that people have the chance to rebook their travel around the strike days.
“Arriving passengers should also be prepared for much longer immigration queues on strike days, owing to reduced Border Force staffing levels.”