Fearing chaos during the Easter holidays, Heathrow put in place many contingency plans. For example, the airport effectively ordered airlines to stop selling tickets for the duration of the strike, forcing British Airways to cancel more than 300 flights.
It is reported that after unsuccessful wage negotiations last week, Heathrow management initially refused meet again in anticipation of the start of the strike, but changed his mind at the last minute. Negotiators from the airport and the union ended up meeting at Heathrow headquarters at 10:00 on Thursday.
Heathrow has offered a 10 percent pay increase for the security staff who work in Terminal 5, as well as for the security guards who check all cargo entering the airport.
Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, rejected the offer, stating his real wage cuts in the face of soaring inflation.
Graham said airport security staff are surviving on 'poor pennies', while remuneration for outgoing chief executive John Holland-Kay has risen 88 per cent to £1.5 million over the past year.
“The proposal for new negotiations should be welcomed. But the leaders of Heathrow must understand that the genie is out of the bottle,” — Graham said Wednesday night.
“Don't expect workers to accept real pay cuts while stockholders and bosses get richer and richer. So, if we want to prevent a strike, more real money must be put on the table to secure a decent pay raise.
If the strikes continue, British Airways will be the hardest hit, as always, as it is the only airline , based in Terminal 5 (together with Iberia). The airline said on Thursday that its dedicated first wing will be closed completely and the fast track will be shortened.
The airline is urging passengers to check in as many items as possible to avoid having to screen hand luggage at the remaining open security checkpoints.