LONDON - More than a million people faced travel chaos over the Christmas and New Year's holidays as baggage handlers and check-in staff at Heathrow and Aberdeen airports announced strikes in tandem with work stoppages by British Airways cabin crews.
BA applied for an emergency court injunction yesterday to stop the 12-day strike by its workers, due to start Tuesday, and also held last-ditch talks with union leaders. Talks ended last night without news of deal.
BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh has called the planned strike, which escalates a bitter dispute over job cuts, pay and working conditions, a "senseless" action that will ruin Christmas for many ordinary people.
The BA walkout would likely ground most of BA's planes at a time it normally operates 650 flights and carries 90,000 passengers each day.
And travelers seeking alternative flights were hit yesterday with the news that baggage handlers and check-in staff at London's Heathrow and the Aberdeen airport will hold a trio of 48-hour strikes - the first also starting on Tuesday.
There was no relief to be found on the rails, either. British Eurostar train drivers announced yesterday they will walk out tomorrow and Saturday, but the operator of the train service between Britain and continental Europe said it was confident it could run a normal service by using replacement drivers from France and Belgium.
The baggage handlers, check-in staff and Eurostar drivers are all taking action over pay disputes - an issue unlikely to win favor with Britons, whose holidays this year come at the end of Britain's worst recession since World War II.