BRITS planning winter getaways face travel chaos as airlines are told to cancel flights because of border force strikes.
Staff at major UK airports have announced the walkouts, with the first round taking place from December 23 until Boxing Day.
Then further strikes will take place between December 28 and New Year’s Eve, putting thousands of families’ Christmas travel plans at risk.
More than a fifth of flights could be grounded, with 15,000 border staff members expected to take part, which could leave those with plans for Christmas breaks completely stuck.
Airlines have been told by officials to cancel up to 30 per cent of journeys scheduled on strike days to limit airport chaos, the Times has reported.
The airports affected will be Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow airports and the port of Newhaven.
Hundreds of military and civil service personnel have been placed on standby in case they are needed to plug the gaps, but airport bosses warn that this might not help.
One airport chief told the Telegraph: “No matter what you do with the military personnel, they are never going to be as efficient as people who have done it for years.
“We will have to make cancellations because there is no way of getting people through the border.”
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS union representing Border Force staff said: “We have tried for months to negotiate with the government. No money or assurances have been forthcoming though.
“PCS members come to me, sometimes in tears, saying they can’t afford to put food on the table.
“Our action will escalate in the new year if the government doesn’t come to the table.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to push ahead with “tough” new laws making it harder for workers to strike.
He said: “Hard working families in this country are facing challenges.
“The government has been reasonable. It’s accepted the recommendations of an independent payroll body to give pay rises, in many cases higher than the private sector.
“But if the union leaders continue to be unreasonable, then it is my duty to take action to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British public.”
The latest strike announcement heaps further misery on Christmas holidaymakers, with baggage handlers, British Rail and Eurostar staff all staging walkouts that could dash hopes for family Christmases.
Passengers have been warned not to travel on trains next week, with rail workers union RMT standing firm against rail bosses.
They have scheduled a number of festive season walkouts, taking place on 13-14 December, 16-17 December, 6pm on Christmas Eve to 6am on 27 December, 3-4 January and 6-7 January.
Baggage handler walkouts will also affect travel at Heathrow for 72 hours from 4am on December 16, affecting ten major airlines from terminals 2, 3 and 4.
These include Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair.
Elsewhere, Eurostar staff are striking on 18, 22 and 23 December.
It means people travelling to see loved ones over the festive period will have to plan trips carefully, or use alternative travel methods, in order to avoid cancellations.
The strikes could result in a return of the scenes that played out at UK airports throughout the summer, with huge queues and cancellations caused by a number of staffing problems.
Heathrow imposed a 100,000 person cap on departing passengers to ease the congestion.
At one point, the airport even ordered airlines to consider booting holidaymakers off flights to help bring an end to the travel mayhem.
That cap was still in place until the end of October, past the point of peak summer travel.
There were similar scenes at Gatwick too, where passengers complained of lengthy queues, missing trips and even being locked in a stairwell.
Meanwhile, cabin crew at Air France have also threatened Christmas strikes for this year.
And bad weather could also play a part in people’s holiday plans being ruined.
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