British Airways And Virgin Atlantic Limit Ticket Sales Ahead Of Strikes

Heathrow, airfield, aircraft taxiing, Sep 2018. Photo: Heathrow Airport.

LONDON – British Flag Carrier British Airways and UK carrier Virgin Atlantic have both announced that they will be limiting ticket sales for flights over the Christmas period after the UK border force announced that they would be taking strike action over this period due to ongoing disputes over pay.

No Releif For UK Air Travel

After two years of COVID-19 struggles and major shortages in staff already causing delays over the last year, many UK airports such as London Heathrow had hoped that this would start to be the end for major planned travel disruptions, however, the strike actions planned now forced the airport to reduce the number of service slots once again, which has, in turn, forced airlines to cancel an estimated 10,000 flights over the Demeber strike periods.

London Heathrow is expected to be one of the worst affected UK airports over the strike action, unsurprising considering it is one of the busiest airports in the globe for connections and international travel. Both airlines use Heathrow as a hub and have already suffered from the need of cutting back on services over the last year.

A Virgin Atlantic representative also said the airline was working closely with the government to “minimise the impact of Border Force strikes on our customers’ journeys”.

Adding: “We intend to operate our schedule as planned, with additional flexibility to allow customers to change their flight dates if they wish to avoid arriving on strike days,”

Photo: Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner, prepares for flight at London Heathrow Terminal 3. Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons

The strikes, to be held from December 23-26 and 28-31, is a deliberate date selection by the UK border force unions, it is the business time of the month for air travel for many airlines, with this disruption likely to cause knock-on effects globally for connecting flights and services.

British Airways Offer Free Flight Changes

AviationSource reached out for a comment from British Airways regarding what commitments and plans they have to help customers who may be affected by these planned strikes, with a BA spokesperson saying: “In view of the Border Force strikes planned over the Christmas period, we’re continuing to work closely with the UK Government, Border Force and airport authorities to ensure that we play our part in ensuring our customers are able to travel as planned at this important time of year.”

When asked about the help being offered to affected customers the spokesperson said: “We’re offering anyone booked to travel on an international flight into London Heathrow or Gatwick Airport on strike dates the option to change their flight dates.”

It is understood that the change of flights will be free of charge, as long as the request is made for an alternative BA service up to 14 days prior to or after the proposed industrial action.

Strong Winter Weather Also Piles In

In addition to all of the planned strike action, the UK is currently going through one of its coldest Decembers on record, with temperatures still forecast to remain low with strong winds, heavy rain, and even at times snow (at the time of this article being published), which will add the risk of even more delays and disruption to an already short staffed and crippled travel sector.

What has caused all this? Well, it is easy to sit there and blame the UK border forces unions for calling for the strike action, and while it seems fair to be annoyed at them for the disruption you may face this Christmas, the real issue is the UK government, who have not really had from day one any structured plan in place to help the aviation industry either coming out of covid or be willing to agree to measures to avoid any planned industrial action.

The UK has gone through three prime ministers in the last 4 months, which means that its priorities are constantly changing just like the cabinet, and this has been a major factor in all of the planned and now taking place strikes to the UK travel sector.

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