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Airport strike 2023: Summer holidays face chaos as strikes to hit London Gatwick airport

Holidaymakers are being warned to expect “inevitable” disruption from later this month when almost 1,000 staff walk out at Gatwick airport as the busy school summer holidays period is in full swing.

The Unite union says the strikes, across two seuccessive long weekends, will cause “severe delays, disruption and cancellations”.

Unite is targeting two key weekends at the summer peak for the UK’s second-busiest airport. The first walk-out is from Friday 28 July to Tuesday 1 August, with a repeat a week later: Friday 4 August until Tuesday 8 August.

The union says the airlines affected include British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, Tui and Wizz Air.

The workers involved are employed by four ground handlers: ASC, Menzies Aviation, GGS and DHL Services Ltd. They run check in, baggage handling and aircraft dispatch.

Unite says it has has been in negotiations with the four companies since January but they all have failed to make adequate offers.

The union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham said: “Our members at Gatwick airport undertake incredibly demanding roles and are essential to keeping the airport and airlines working, yet their employers somehow think it is acceptable to pay them a pittance.

“As part of Unite’s unyielding focus on the jobs, pay and condition of its members the union has drawn a line in the sand and is committed to eradicating the scourge of low pay at the airport.”

Unite’s regional officer Dominic Rothwell said: “Strike action will inevitably cause severe delays, disruption and cancellations across Gatwick’s operations but this dispute is entirely of the companies’ own making.

“They have had every opportunity to make our members’ a fair pay offer but have chosen not to do so.”

A Gatwick airport spokesperson said: “We are aware of the recent ballot result and will support our airlines with their contingency plans to ensure that flights operate as scheduled”.

During the strike period, Gatwick airport is projected to see an average of 441 daily departures, with easyJet being the biggest airline, followed by British Airways, Tui, Vueling and Ryanair.

The aviation analytics firm, Cirium, says there are expected to be 840,000 seats on those aircraft across the strike dates.

The Independent has asked the ground handlers and the airlines for responses.

Gatwick is the world’s busiest single-runway airport. This week easyJet – the main airline at the Sussex airport – said it was cancelling 1,700 flights over the summer peak because of chronic air-traffic control delays.

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