Christmas travel warning as thousands of Brits face flight cancellations and huge airport queues this month | The Sun

BRITS face the possibility of chaos returning to airports this winter, with border forces announcing winter strike action.

Up to a fifth of flights could be grounded, with 15,000 border staff members expected to take place, which could leave those with plans for Christmas breaks completely stuck.

The walkouts are expected to start from December 21, but bosses at the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will announce a full schedule at 3pm today (Wednesday).

Hundreds of military and civil service personnel are on standby in case they are needed to plug the gaps, but airport bosses warn that this might not help.

They also suggest that they are still not sure just how many of their border resources will be taken away by the walkouts, saying that they would not be able to prevent cancellations.

An airport chief told the Telegraph: “Border Force haven’t given us any indication of what resources might be available or how many of their staff might be called out on strike.

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“What is concerning is that no matter what you do with the military personnel, they are never going to be as efficient as people who have done it for years.

“There is going to be some impact and there is concern we cannot keep people just flying into the country and waiting in halls in long queues. We will have to make cancellations because there is no way of getting people through the border.”

The strikes are taking place over a pay dispute with the PCS seeking a 10 per cent rise and a block on job cuts.

It could see a return of the scenes that played out at UK airports throughout the summer, with huge queues and cancellations caused by strikes, among other staffing problems.

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Heathrow imposed a 100,000 person cap on departing passengers to ease the congestion.

At one point, the airport even ordered airlines to consider booting holidaymakers off flights to help bring an end to the travel mayhem.

That cap was still in place until the end of October, past the point of peak summer travel.

There were similar scenes at Gatwick too, where passengers complained of lengthy queues, missing transport and even being locked in a stairwell.

It remains to be seen just how badly airports will be affected by the border force walkouts, but one estimate suggests airports could be running only 70 or 80 per cent of their flights.

Border staff aren't the only airport staff members to be staging walkouts this Christmas either, with baggage handlers among a number of workers to be striking.

The 72-hour strike, starting on December 16, will affect flights operated by ten major airlines from Heathrow terminals 2, 3 and 4.

These include Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair.

Anyone considering changing their plans and travelling by train could also face frustration, with rail strikes continuing this month as workers dispute pay, job cuts and working conditions.

From Tuesday, December 13, thousands of members of the RWT union working for Network Rail and 14 rail operating companies are set to stage strikes.

The strikes will run from December 13-14 and 16-17.

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Meanwhile, cabin crew at Air France have also threatened Christmas strikes for this year.

And bad weather could also play a part in people's holiday plans being ruined.


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