British airports warn strikes to cause travel delays
Britain's airports have warned that travellers will face delays Thursday due to a walkout by border officials as part of a nationwide strike of civil servants and teachers.
BAA, which runs Heathrow, Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports, said on Wednesday the walkout in a row over pensions was likely to trigger delays.
"We have been informed by UK Border Agency that arriving passengers should expect delays at the UK border on Thursday as a result of industrial action by immigration officers," said a BAA spokeswoman.
The UK Border Agency is responsible for enforcing immigration and customs regulations.
About 70 percent of agency staff are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), whose members are set to join the strike.
The UK Border Agency admitted the walkout could affect ports and international rail terminals as well as airports.
"People travelling into the UK may experience delays at border control," said a statement on its website.
"The impact of the strike will be different at individual ports, airports and international rail terminals. We have put contingency plans in place and will work hard to keep delays to a minimum."
A spokeswoman for British flag carrier British Airways said the airline was working to "minimise potential inconvenience to our customers".
"This is clearly an issue beyond our control but we are doing everything we can to protect our customers," she said.
Border agency staff are among about 600,000 teachers and civil servants set to stage a rare nationwide strike on Thursday in the country's biggest walkout since the coalition government took office last year.
Four trade unions voted to take action on June 30 to protest against changes to pensions.
They have been infuriated by proposed reforms which would raise the public sector retirement age by up to six years to 66, increase employee contributions and replace final salary pensions with average career earnings pensions.
© 2011 AFP