‘Christmas travel chaos is on the cards’

The union called on the airlines and airport owners to take on the Aviator workforce. Picture: In-Press: Dave Poultney

The union called on the airlines and airport owners to take on the Aviator workforce. Picture: In-Press: Dave Poultney

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Sussex travellers may face Christmas travel disruption at four UK airports, including Gatwick Airport, unless a baggage carrier can transfer 1,700 staff to other handlers, according to a Unite.

Unite, the country’s largest union, understands that Scandinavian company Aviator is closing its operations at Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle airports Wednesday, November 30 because it is not making money.

Aviator offers a range of airport services, including baggage handling and airport security.

The union called for clarity today about what Aviator is planning to do to ensure smooth continuity of check-in, refuelling, and baggage handling services, otherwise, the union warned, Christmas travel disruption was possible.

The union called on the airlines and airport owners to take on the Aviator workforce as a matter of urgency and to end the current state of limbo.

According to Unite there were about 1,200 Aviator staff at Gatwick alone, servicing BA, Norwegian, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Virgin.

Unite national officer for civil air transport Oliver Richardson said: “Unite will be seeking assurances from the company, airlines, other handlers and ultimately, the airports that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

“It is a matter of serious concern for both our members and the traveling public that so close to Christmas most of the airlines have not announced where their baggage handling and check-in contracts are going.

“The airport owners and the airlines, which require these services for their planes to land and take-off efficiently, need to get their skates on to sort this out, without any detriment to the staff jobs, pay and conditions, otherwise Christmas travel chaos is on the cards.”

Aviator have been contacted for comment.

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