London airport strike a potential problem for travelers

Posted on Dec 23, 2014

After the resolution of a software failure that diverted, delayed and canceled or postponed hundreds of flights in early December, travelers in and around London will have to contend with another transit problem at the end of the month. Mashable reported that workers at transport hubs including London's Heathrow Airport, have voted to go on strike on December 23 and 24. The timing of the strike will affect both corporate travel and personal trips, as businesspeople fly home for the holidays after completing their business abroad and trips are made to visit family and friends in different parts of the world.

Strike affects many positions, multiple airports
While the strike will have the largest impact at Heathrow, where thousands of flights either start, end or connect each day, other airports in the United Kingdom will be affected as well. Among the locations which will go partially dark in the days before Christmas are London Gatwick and Manchester, which also handle a high volume of local and international flights. While the airline staff who operate the planes themselves - the pilots, flight attendants and others in similar positions - won't walk out, many of each airport's other functions will be impacted. Workers who handle the check-in process, baggage handling, vehicle driving and other essential components of operation will be on strike. There are 13 airlines that use these services at the affected airports, including major companies such as US Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas.

Cause for the action
According to U.K. newspaper The Daily Express, the strike had been called because employees of dnata, the company that provides the services to airports, were unhappy about unequal pay raises between staff and those in managerial positions. In total, 460 employees are participating in the strike action.

For businesses
The advance knowledge of the strike provided by coverage in the news media is a positive for companies with travelers expected to pass through the area on the affected days. With enough advance warning, plans can be changed and employees rerouted to make sure they return from business abroad safely and quickly. However, the situation in London hasn't been totally resolved. It's possible that the strike could be averted if dnata accedes to the demands of its staff, however, an extension of the strike could also occur.

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