Passengers face UK airport chaos at check-in as security staff to walk out twice

Travellers are set to face further disruption as union Unite announced that 300 security and passenger services staff at Gatwick are planning to strike on six days in July. This could potentially cause significant delays at check-in, adding to the woes of holiday-goers.

The strikes involve 100 baggage security screeners employed by ICTS and 200 Wilson James workers who provide special assistance services for vulnerable passengers. Both groups of workers, earning just above the minimum wage, have rejected pay offers from their employers and plan to strike from 12 to 14 July and 19 to 21 July. Unite warned that more industrial action could be scheduled if the disputes remain unresolved.

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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham stated: "These workers undertake incredibly demanding roles at one of the UK's busiest airports. They are simply seeking a fair day's pay. ICTS and Wilson James are wealthy companies and can well afford to put forward acceptable pay offers.

Our members at Gatwick have Unite's total backing in taking strike action for a decent pay rise. Unite said the strikes will cause 'significant disruption' to security screening and passenger services. In addition, around 100 HGV drivers and warehouse workers who provide all of EasyJet's onboard catering at Gatwick are being balloted for strike action in a row over shift pay payments.

Unite regional officer Dominic Rothwell said: "Unite has predicted that the strikes will cause 'significant disruption' to security screening and passenger services. Additionally, around 100 dNata HGV drivers and warehouse workers, who provide all of EasyJet's onboard catering at Gatwick, are being balloted for strike action over a dispute regarding shift pay payments.

He added: "The employers in these disputes are responsible for any disruption caused to passengers at Gatwick. These disputes could be easily resolved if reasonable offers are put forward."

He also noted, "There is still time to avoid industrial action, but that will require these companies to table deals that are acceptable to our members." An official from London Gatwick responded by stating: "We are working with our suppliers to avoid any impacts and we expect to operate a normal summer holiday flight schedule for our airlines and passengers on these dates."

In the midst of all this, several flights to and from the UK have been cancelled due to a perilous shortage in air traffic controllers, resulting in both Ryanair and Wizz Air extending their apologies to their passengers.

Ryanair reported that approximately 60 flights were cut, along with another 150 facing lengthy delay times. Neal McMahon, Ryanair's Chief Operating Officer, critically said, ATC services were suffering their "worst levels ever".

He continued, expressing his frustration: "These repeated ATC delays and cancellations are unacceptable. We apologise to our passengers for these repeated ATC flight delays and flight cancellations, which are deeply regrettable but beyond Ryanair's control."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Wizz Air stated: "Wizz Air was prepared to ensure smooth summer operations for its passengers; however, the air traffic control system seems to be experiencing significant issues this summer."

"As an industry, we are compelled to escalate these issues with the relevant air traffic management authorities, including Eurocontrol, to ensure proper mitigation actions are implemented to minimise disruptions."

There was a temporary suspension of flights at London's Gatwick airport on Friday, June 28 after a plane was obstructed from taking off, thereby blocking the runway with 'hot brakes'.

Youtravel announced this week that they would be cancelling all bookings up to and including July 26th. The company mentioned that this was a 'difficult' decision taken to extend cancellations past July 5 while there is still ongoing discussions regarding the future of the company.

The parent company of Youtravel, a German company known as FTI Group, had one of its tour operator brands, FTI Touristik, go into insolvency earlier this month. A number of UK travel agents utilise products provided by the group which means this could disrupt the plans of thousands of travellers.

It has been confirmed that all active bookings for arrivals scheduled up until July 26 will be cancelled without charge by Monday, July 1. This gives just a few days for agents who hold packages for UK travellers and have booked accommodation through Youtravel to make alternative arrangements.