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Summer 'travel chaos' as thousands of staff strike at Heathrow and Stansted

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Queues at Heathrow Airport. Photo: Stephen Hird/Reuters

Holidaymakers could face “summer travel chaos” as thousands of staff go on strike at Heathrow and Stansted airports this month.

Heathrow airport could even be “shut down” as more than 4,000 workers walk out in a series of strikes caused by a row over pay, the Unite union said on Friday as it announced six days of strike action.

Unite said Heathrow staff — including security guards, engineers, passenger service operatives, and passenger service drivers — will walk out on dates in July and August.

Workers are set to go on strike on Friday 26 July and Saturday 27 July, Monday 5 August and Tuesday 6 August, and Friday 23 August and Saturday 24 August.

The announcement comes just hours after Unite announced Stansted airport workers at easyJet’s check-in desks were also planning industrial action over the summer.

READ MORE: What the Thomas Cook Fosun deal means for holidaymakers

Thousands of easyJet passengers could face a major headache as staff begin a walkout on Thursday 25 July — just as schools break up for the summer holiday.

The easyJet strike, involving 43 passenger service agents employed by Stobart Aviation Services, is also over a long-running row over pay for allegedly “undervalued” staff.

Workers at Stansted have complained of inadequate drinking water on shifts, but a Stobart spokesman said it was happy to continue talks over union recognition and had “contingency plans” to limit the impact on passengers.

They will walk out at Stansted from 25 to 29 July, 2 to 5 August, 9 to 12 August, 16 to 19 August, and 23 to 27 August unless the strike is called off.

Thomas Cook's share price has plummeted. Photo: PA

The news comes amid growing concern among holidaymakers over the future of popular travel operator Thomas Cook.

The world’s oldest travel company saw its share price almost halve on Friday as it confirmed it was in talks over a takeover and possible emergency bailout from its biggest shareholder, the Chinese firm Fosun.

Thomas Cook said the takeover deal and cash injection to the tune of £750m gives it enough cash to keep trading until after this winter at least, as well as “invest in the business for the future.”