Talks aim to avert Christmas strikes at 18 UK airports as home-coming Irish hope for breakthrough

Talks aim to avert Christmas strikes at 18 UK airports as home-coming Irish hope for breakthrough

Talks get underway today to avert Christmas airline strikes by staff at 18 airports across the UK.

If the action goes ahead, it could affect the many Irish people who have booked flights home to Ireland for Christmas.

Union and Swissair representatives in the UK meet today as check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew prepare to walk out for 48 hours on Friday, over pay.

Members of Unite employed by Swissport will walk out on December 23 and 24 at Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Stansted.

British Airways cabin crew plan to strike on Christmas Day and Stephens Day for the same reason, with airline management calling it a "heartless decision".

However, British Airways plans to run its full service on Christmas Day and Stephen's Day despite the planned strike.

Alex Cruz, British Airways chief executive and chairman, said: "We are making sure that this attempt to ruin Christmas for thousands of our customers fails.

"Over the weekend we have been working on detailed contingency plans to ensure that we are able to operate our normal flight programme from all our airports on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day."

Union Unite warned British Airways against making "misleading statements" while talks were ongoing.

General secretary Len McCluskey said: "It is deeply disappointing that British Airways has put out misleading commentary to the media and broken an agreed embargo on comments while negotiations are ongoing.

"Our young members deserve credit for standing up for themselves against a corporate giant such as British Airways in their fight for a living wage. They are entitled to have aspirations and entitled to have a decent standard of living."

Meanwhile, Virgin pilots will work "strictly to contract" from Friday in a row over union recognition.

Irish passengers travelling home at the weekend will be keeping a close eye on developments.

Airline operators here say their flights to and from the UK are scheduled to operate as normal over Christmas and passengers will be updated if that changes, by email, text or social media.


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