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Christmas Chaos Imminent as UK Baggage Handlers Pull Out

Christmas Chaos Imminent as UK Baggage Handlers Pull Out
Jackie Reddy

Aviator says it cannot confirm the scale of job losses, but it currently employs about 1,700 staff at Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham and London’s Gatwick airports.

It’s barely Halloween, but it seems that holiday chaos is already imminent for those planning to make their seasonal getaway via any number of UK airports this Christmastide. The Daily Telegraph has revealed that Aviator, the Swedish company responsible for handling baggage for multiple airlines across a number of the country’s airports, will be pulling its operations out of the country by the end of next month.

This action will leave the country’s Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham airports, as well as London’s Gatwick Airport, short of approximately 1,700 baggage handling staff. There are approximately 1,200 Aviator staff currently based at Gatwick alone.

Aviator was unable to confirm exactly how many members of staff would lose their jobs. However, Oliver Richardson, the civil air transport officer for Unite, the labor body representing the firm’s staff, stated that, “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.”

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

Aviator confirmed to the paper that, “We’re in discussions with a large number of stakeholders including airlines to ensure that this process is orderly and well-managed. Our focus is on maximizing employment and meeting the needs of our airline customers while minimizing disruption.”

The company also said that it had noted Unite’s stance on its plans and Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham airports have confirmed that they have begun talks with alternative baggage-handling providers.

[Photo: BAA Airports Limited]

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