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The Traveller's Magazine
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There hasn’t been an aviation strike in like what… months? So it’s about time! Heathrow is expecting to face delays of up to 12 hours for arriving passengers as immigration officers prepare to go on strike next week.

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The aviation industry, like any other, works like clockwork and as a very intricate network all synched together on the best day. When an essential part of that web stops working the whole thing can collapse, creating havoc at one of the world’s busiest airports.

That’s about to happen at London Heathrow (LHR).

Airline passengers from abroad arriving at Heathrow next week could experience delays of up to 12 hours due to immigration officers going on strike. Airlines have been warned and the airport is preparing for potential “gridlock” at the arrival terminals.

BAA, the owner of Heathrow, has advised airlines to only fly planes half full in order to avoid this. (What would Michael O’Leary say about this? It’s a good thing Ryanair doesn’t land at Heathrow!)

As of next Wednesday (November 30th, 2011), 2.6 million public sector workers will walk out over proposed pension changes. Of that number, about 4,000 are immigration workers. Of course department managers will step in but delays are inevitable.

Did you know that on any given weekday more than 100 flights from long-haul destinations land at Heathrow before 9:00am? Counting 300+ heads a plane, that’s a lot of passengers to get through immigration! Some flights are expected to make diversions to the Continent due to lack of space at Heathrow to accommodate backed up planes and lack of space for so many passengers in the terminal. Which brings up the question again, does London need another airport?

Are you planning to fly on November 30th? Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are allowing passengers to change flights free of charge in order to avoid any of this anticipated chaos.

Img: kingair42 / Flickr cc.

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