Heathrow air freight ground handlers strike

(STRIKE OFF – SEE UPDATE BELOW) Heathrow ground handlers have rejected below-inflation pay offers, with members of the Unite union taking part in three days of strike action, commencing tomorrow, which could impact cargo flying with major carriers.

18TH NOVEMBER – The strike by ground handlers at at dnata has been called off after members accepted an improved offer. Today’s strike action by Menzies has gone ahead, but it is believed that it has now been suspended, so that union members can be balloted on a new pay offer

The strike involves 700 workers employed by dnata and Menzies, that are responsible for aircraft while they are on the ground, assisting with the prompt arrival, turnaround and departure of jets, with efficient baggage and cargo handling.

Unite is warning that the action starting in the early hours of the 18th November and running to the 21st November will cause “disruption, cancellation and delays” to flights operating from terminals 2, 3 and 4.

The strike action will particularly affect Qatar Airways, which has scheduled an additional 10 flights a week during the football World Cup, the union said and other airlines that will be “hit heavily” by the strike action include Virgin, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates. 

Heathrow Airport management have held discussions with airlines on their contingency plans to support ground handling and avoid disruption should the strike go ahead.

Menzies and dnata have announced the formation of contingency plans, but details have yet to be made public.

Long-standing cargo disruption at the airport, which has only recently cleared, would make an unwelcome return if the strike creates too much congestion and bottlenecks, from flight cancellations and delays.

The union said that a pay rise on offer from the two firms does not cover inflation. “Dnata has offered its workers a 5% increase, while the offers for Menzies workers vary between 2% and 6%.”

The employers said that it is disappointing that Unite plans to progress with this costly industrial action, and that strike action will only delay the process at a time when employees need the increase now.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at Dnata and Menzies undertake highly challenging roles and are simply seeking a decent pay rise. Both companies are highly profitable and can fully afford to make a fair pay increase”.

We will keep you updated with the situation and hopeful progress in relation to any impact on cargo movements through the Heathrow gateway.

Our Heathrow office is monitoring the ground handling situation closely and, if necessary, will take action to avoid disruption from the dispute. We regularly flex cargo volumes between our Heathrow and Birmingham airport hubs, as well as other gateway and regional hubs throughout the UK and Europe.

With more direct flights, including daily Emirates 777s and multiple long haul and regional connecting carriers into Birmingham Airport hub, we are even better positioned to protect our customers from any adverse impact during the potential Heathrow dispute, or any other congestion that occurs at the UK’s largest cargo airport. We react as needed ensuring alternatives are available and reliability and integrity to time critical movements is always maintained, regardless of the situation.

For further information on our air freight services and solutions please contact Elliot Carlile for immediate assistance. We have it covered and have the solution to ensure delays are minimised, and where possible, avoided.