British Airways Heathrow staff back summer strikes over pay

Hundreds of British Airways workers at Heathrow Airport have voted to go on strike over pay.

Unite and GMB union members who are mostly check-in staff backed industrial action on Thursday.

A total of 700 workers are set to strike during the summer holidays when demand from travelers is expected to be near pre-pandemic levels.

The unions said the action was due to a 10% pay cut imposed during the peak of the pandemic not being reinstated.

Some 500 Unite members recorded a 94.7% vote in favor of industrial action, while 95% of GMB members backed the walkouts.

The strike dates will be confirmed in the coming days.

The proposed action relates to fewer than 50% of British Airways staff based at Heathrow in customer-facing roles only, and there are other customer service workers who have not been balloted.

It is understood that if strikes go ahead, BA, which operates from terminals three and five at Heathrow, has plans to cover staff, including managers potentially dealing with check-ins.

However, there would still be a disruption for passengers, especially at terminal five, leading to cancellations, which would be focused on routes with several daily flights.

The GMB claimed that while other British Airways workers have been given a 10% bonus, "the check-in staff have had nothing".

British Airways said it was "extremely disappointed" with the result of the ballot.

"Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4bn, we made an offer of a 10% payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues," a statement said.

The airline said it was committed to talks to "find a solution" with unions.

Unite officer Russ Ball accused BA of having "insulted this workforce, slashing pay by 10% to restore it to managers but not to our members".

Mr. Ball said the airline had a "short window of opportunity" to up workers' pay to pre-pandemic levels or face walkouts that would "inevitably cause severe disruption".

Meanwhile, Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said BA had "tried to offer our members crumbs from the table in the form of a 10% one-off bonus payment, but this doesn't cut the mustard".

"It's not too late to save the summer holidays - other BA workers have had their pay cuts reversed, do the same for ground and check-in staff and this industrial action can be nipped in the bud," she added.

Tens of thousands of passengers have been hit by airport disruption and flight cancellations in recent weeks.

Hundreds of flights across the UK were canceled during the week of the Platinum Jubilee and school half-term holidays, and concerns have been raised of further travel woes during the summer.

The disruption has been caused by several factors, but staff shortages have left the aviation industry struggling to cope with resurgent demand for overseas travel.

Heathrow Airport has increased its annual passenger forecast once again.

The UK's largest airport says it expects 54.4 million passengers to travel through its terminals, up by nearly nine million on the guidance it gave in December.