Furious passengers have criticised Heathrow Airport for failing to tell them if their flights have been cancelled due to next week’s two-day strike.
The airport has said 172 flights will be cut on Monday and Tuesday after thousands of workers overwhelmingly rejected a revised pay offer.
Unite said 88% of its 4,000 union members – who include security guards, firefighters and engineers – voted to refuse the deal and further industrial action is planned for 48 hours from 23 August.
The parties will head to last-ditch pay dispute talks at the conciliation service ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) in an effort to avert a strike.
Passengers due to leave the airport on Monday and Tuesday have been highly critical on social media of the airport’s handling of the situation.
I spoke to Heathrow about the list of cancelled flights and they told us to contact our airlines. But now you’re saying to contact Heathrow about the cancelled flights. This is so unorganised!
— chloe (@chloedonovan009) August 3, 2019
@101kingy tweeted simply: “Can you tell us what flights are cancelled on Monday???”, while @spikesanddips asked: “Are both inbound and outbound flights affected? Not clear to me yet.”
Some called out the airport for telling travellers to contact airlines, who in turn advised them to check with Heathrow.
I actually don’t find anything in all of this funny, so I don’t really get all the smiley faces in your reply! Very unprofessional attitude! Also the airlines have no clue about the strike action, it’s your own problem which you’re simply just trying to dump on the airlines!
— Tamer El-Husseiny (@Tamerelhusseiny) August 3, 2019
@Tamerelhusseiny, who received one such reply from Heathrow, made his feelings clear, accusing the airport of “just trying to dump on the airlines”, who have “no clue”.
@chloedonovan009 echoed those sentiments, calling it “so unorganised!”.
@LaurenJ77 summed up the feelings of many passengers, calling it “disgusting”, while @Teel1 described it as a “feeble response from feeble inept mamagement (sic)”.
Earlier, a Heathrow spokesman told passengers contingency plans had been “activated”, advising them to “check our website for detailed information on how to prepare for their flights and when to arrive at the airport”.
are both inbound and outbound flights affected? Not clear to me yet.
— Spikes and Dips (@spikesanddips) August 3, 2019
He also suggested they “contact their airlines for the latest information, as well as follow our Twitter and Facebook accounts for further updates”.
Unite warned the airport against paying millions of pounds in compensation to airlines for cancelled flights instead of using the money to settle the dispute.
Unite regional officer Wayne King said: “Heathrow faces a compensation bill in the region of £4.6m from airlines if the planned strikes go ahead.
“Rather than provoking the disruption that strike action will cause, we would urge Heathrow Airport to use this money for an improved pay offer that better reflects the hard work of the workers who keep the airport running safely and smoothly.”
The airport’s spokesman said: “We are disappointed that Unite has rejected the latest pay offer and will continue to seek an agreement at ACAS.
“Unite is proceeding with its unnecessary strike action on 5 and 6 August, and we regret that passengers looking to get away on well-earned breaks will be impacted by this.”
Warning of longer queues at terminals, he said Heathrow was “working with airlines to proactively consolidate flights and re-book passengers onto alternative services in advance”.