Millions head on Christmas breaks, but will strikes hit flights?

Strikes could take place on 23 and 24 December
Strikes could take place on 23 and 24 December

This weekend is set to be one of the busiest days of travel this festive period as Brits head on holiday or to see family and friends.

During the next week 43, 405 flights will depart and arrive from UK airports with ABTA estimating 4 million will head overseas between today and 3 January.

More than 3 million will depart from airports in London while 380,000 will leave from Manchester, 160,000 from Birmingham and 50,000 from Leeds.

The Canary Islands, Tunis and Morocco are among the hotter favourites while Dubai, Mexico, Cuba and Egypt are popular for longer trips.

Eurostar has reported a 5% rise in passenger numbers for the festive period compared to last year, with more than 480,000 to use its rail services into France and Belgium. Paris, Disneyland Paris and the French Alps are the most popular destinations.

ABTA’s Mark Tanzer said: “As always the roads and railways will be very busy so travellers should leave plenty of time to make their connections and check for engineering work before leaving home – as well as ensuring they take out an adequate insurance policy.”



Airports and rail stations will also be doing their part to spread Christmas cheer, with Eurostar planning competitions, a magician and manicures in the run-up to Christmas Day. At Gatwick a gospel choir, Santa brass band and Frank Sinatra tribute will help with festivities.

However the mood could be dampened next week for two days if staff at dnata go on strike.


But will ground handlers threaten plans?

Union members at the ground handler have voted 83% in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay. dnata has recently imposed a pay offer that sees supervisors get 4.5%, double than other staff.

If talks do not take place more than 460 members could take industrial action on 23 December and Christmas Eve impacting flights especially at Heathrow and Manchester.

dnata’s staff include check-in staff, HGV drivers and aircraft push back drivers for airlines including Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and Qatar Airways.

Unite has now called for dnata to commence talks through Acas to resolve the dispute.

Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said: “It is extremely disappointing that dnata has acted in such a high handed way and sought to split the workforce between the haves and the have nots.

“Strike action is very much a last resort and our members are mindful of the potential disruption it could cause. But they feel frustrated with an employer that has refused point blank to go to Acas and negotiate in a sensible manner.

“Instead hardworking staff have seen their supervisors enjoy a pay rise double the amount that was imposed on them.

“Our members are angry over the inequality being shown within dnata and we would urge management to join us at Acas to reach a fair pay deal.”

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