Passengers at airports across the UK could face major disruption next week when immigration officers and the UK Border agency go on strike, according to reports.
Airports including Gatwick and Heathrow have been holding talks with airlines and the UK Border Agency to try to minimise the disruption that could result from Wednesday’s public sector strike, which is likely to affect arriving flights across the UK.
Scott Stanley, Gatwick Airport’s Chief Operating Officer said: “Gatwick continues to work closely with the UK Border Agency and its airlines to ensure robust contingency measures are put in place to ensure disruption to passengers and airport operations is kept to a minimum.
He added: “We recognise that this will be a challenging time for all airport passengers, and we would warn passengers to be prepared for the potential for significant disruption at the border zones on the 30th November.”
Gatwick has revealed plans to update passengers via their website and Twitter.
Heathrow’s operating officer Normand Boivin has warned in an interview that delays resulting from the strike could be up to 12 hours to arriving passengers.
He said: “The delays at immigration are likely to be so long that passengers could not be safely accommodated within the terminals and would need to be held on arriving aircraft.
“This in turn would quickly create gridlock at the airport with no available aircraft parking stands, mass cancellations or departing aircraft and diversions outside the UK for arriving aircraft.”
Gatwick revealed contingency plans for airport volunteers to assist on the day. Meanwhile the Home Office said it was considering drafting in Whitehall civil servants to work as border staff at Heathrow.
The strikes are being held over changes to public sector pensions and thousands of border agency workers are expected to be among up to two million who could walk out.