Strikes at Heathrow Airport in Run-Up to World Cup

700 workers are set to strike in Europe’s busiest airport in a dispute over pay. The strikes at Heathrow Airport will begin on the 18th of November and last three days. According to the workers union, Unite the Union, (UNITE) the strike action will cause disruption and delays at Heathrow terminals 2,3 and 4.

The 700 workers to strike primarily work in ground-handling, airside transport and cargo services at Heathrow and are employed by Emirates group’s airport services Dnata and Menzies.

A 5% pay rise has been offered to Dnata workers whilst Menzies has offered between a 2% and 6% pay increase to its workforce. UNITE has said that the pay increase is well below the current rate of inflation which stands at 12.6%.

UNITE General Secretary Sharon Graham has said workers at the airport want a decent pay rise in line with inflation. “Our members at Dnata and Menzies undertake highly challenging roles and are simply seeking a decent pay rise. Both companies are highly profitable and can fully afford to make a fair pay increase. The owners and directors are simply lining their own pockets rather than paying their workers fairly. The workers at Heathrow will have Unite’s complete support during this dispute.”

How will this affect the World Cup?

Strikes at Heathrow airport
Strikes at Heathrow airport will affect passengers travelling to Qatar for the World Cup. Photo credit: Giuseppe Cacace

Football fans travelling to Qatar from Heathrow are likely to be delayed. The strike begins on the 18th of November, just a few days before the World Cup is set to begin on the 20th of November. UNITE regional officer Kevin Hall warned that passengers will be facing disruption: “strike action will inevitably cause disruption, delays and cancellations to flights throughout Heathrow, with travellers to the World Cup particularly affected.”

Qatar Airways is set to be particularly affected by the strike action as the airline has scheduled 10 flights a week during the World Cup.

Other airlines such as Virgin, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are also set to be hit by the strike action. Passengers returning to the USA for Thanksgiving are also set to be faced with delays.

Heathrow Airport has said that it will do all it can to minimise disruption:

“We are aware of proposed industrial action from Dnata and Menzies colleagues at Heathrow, and we are in discussions with our airline partners on what contingency plans they can implement to support their ground handling should the strike go ahead. Our priority is to ensure passengers are not disrupted by airline ground handler shortages.”

Heathrow hit by more travel chaos

Strikes at Heathrow airport
In the summer passengers faced huge queues at Heathrow. | © Steve Parsons / PA Images / Getty Images.

This isn’t the first time this year that workers at Heathrow have gone on strike. BA workers in the summer of this year voted for strike action during the summer holidays which caused misery for travellers.

Heathrow Airport introduced a cap on passenger numbers in July this year to minimise disruption. The 100,000-passenger limit was scrapped in October but there are fears that the limit could be re-introduced at Christmas.

Britain’s busiest airport suffered heavily during the pandemic. In 2019 Heathrow airport welcomed 80.9 million passengers. In 2020 this dramatically decreased to only 22.1 million passengers. 2021 didn’t fare much better as the airport only welcomed 19.4 million passengers.

Staff shortages have caused problems for the aviation industry as many airports struggle to recruit numbers as restrictions have lifted for international travel.

Are you travelling to Qatar for the world cup? Will you be affected by the upcoming strikes? Let us know in the comments below.


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Gabriella Van Jennians
Gabriella Van Jennians
Gabriella is an aspiring Journalist from the UK. She holds a BA Journalism degree from the University of Lincoln, where she has learnt various writing and production skills to help her break into the industry. Gabriella joined Travel Radar in 2022 and hopes to learn and gain experience writing for the aviation sector.




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