Heathrow airport confident most passengers will be unaffected by strike

Traveller numbers fall slightly in November, but airport predicts a busy December

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Most travellers at London's Heathrow will be not be affected by the strike by Border Force officials over the Christmas period, the airport announced on Monday.

British Border Force workers are due to start industrial action for several days starting on December 23. The work stoppages will happen at several UK airports, including Heathrow and Gatwick.

“We are doing everything we can to protect a full flight schedule on strike days, so departing passengers should expect to travel as normal,” Heathrow said.

Passengers with British, EU, US, Canadian and some other passports will be able to use e-gates as usual and their journeys should be largely unaffected on strike days.

“We are ready to welcome millions of passengers heading off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends,” Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said.

“We have extra people in the terminals on the busiest days, including me and my management team, to ensure we get people on their way as smoothly as possible and start to bring the joy back into travel.

“We are doing everything we can to protect full operating schedules on Border Force strike days and departing journeys and the vast majority of arriving journeys should be unaffected.”

Passengers queue inside the departures terminal of Terminal 2 at Heathrow airport. Reuters

On Friday, Britain's Ministry of Defence said military personnel were training to carry out passport checks in case they were needed.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned last Thursday that delays to travel were a possibility due to the Border Force strikes, and that people should think carefully about their plans to fly abroad.

Passenger numbers

Meanwhile, Heathrow said that 5.6 million passengers passed through the airport in November, down from 5.9 million in October.

But post-pandemic growth in passenger numbers remains strong. So far this year, 55 million people have travelled through Heathrow, which is nearly 70 per cent of 2019 levels.

Heathrow welcomed 595,000 passengers from the Middle East in November, a 47.6 per cent increase on November last year.

Between January and November this year, more than 6.2 million Middle East passengers passed through Heathrow, a jump of 244 per cent on the same period of 2021.

Heathrow is expecting a busy December, with New York's JFK airport set to be the most popular destination.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 10:54 AM
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