Public sector strike might see Heathrow grind to complete halt

by William ASTON on November 25, 2011

Heathrow airport has warned the airlines that operate in it that passengers might face delays of up to 12 hours next week once immigration officers start their strike over pensions.

Norman Boivin, the hub’s Chief operating officer, said that there is a danger of “gridlock”. BAA, Heathrow’s operator, is currently in talks with carriers, as well as the UK Border Agency, in an attempt to minimize any impact that Wednesday’s public sector strike is to have. PM David Cameron said that it is clear that there will be an impact at Britain’s ports and airports but all borders will remain secure.

His spokesman commented that at the very least longer queues will be experienced and travelers will have a long wait at UK borders. It was added that the Coalition is still working on its contingency plans and putting together information on the possible impact of the strikes.

In a letter that was addressed to all airlines operative at Heathrow, Mr Boivin said that delays at immigration will be so long that many passengers cannot be safely accommodated in the terminals and will need to be kept on arriving aircraft – something that will create gridlock at the hub. He added that the modelling of the strike’s impacts of on passenger flows at UK airports show that very long delays that could last up to 12 hours will be experienced by arriving passengers.

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