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Thousands bound for India from UK to face disruption

Over a million air passengers would face disruption in the new year from a strike threat by a union which could close 7 airports in Britain.

world Updated: Dec 22, 2007 23:15 IST

Over a million air passengers, including thousands bound for India, would face disruption in the new year from a strike threat by a union which could close seven airports in Britain.

Cabinet crew strikes on Virgin Atlantic in the second of January mean that passengers will have a hard time for more than a week from Jan 7 to 17.

An estimated 5,000 workers, including most security search staff and hundreds of firefighters are due to walk out on January 7 from Heathrow, Gatwick and other airports.

The strikes are called in protest against the decision by BAA (British Airport Authority), the Spanish-owned airport operator, to close its final-salary pension scheme to new employees.

More than 5,000 workers are due to launch their strike for 24 hours from 6 am on January 7, Virgin Atlantic cabinet crew to strike for 48 hours on January 9-10 and BAA will launch their strike from 6am for 24 hours on January 14.

While Virgin Atlantic cabin crew will strike on January 16-17, BAA employees will launch a 48-hour strike from 6 am on January 17.

BAA, which also owns Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton airports, handles about two thirds of all take- offs and landings in Britain.

Unite, which represents firefighters, maintenance and security staff and clerical workers at the airports, said all seven airports would have to close because BAA would not have enough firefighters to meet minimum safety standards.

More than 300,000 passengers and 3,000 flights could be affected on each of the strike days. The disruption would continue for a day or two after each stoppage because aircraft and crew would be out of position.

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