The gods aren’t smiling on travellers this Christmas

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Southern Rail

Southern Rail will have strikes before and after Christmas

It isn’t looking good for those of us who are planning on travelling over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

For a start there will be more problems getting to Gatwick because of the ongoing Southern rail mess and there will be the usual shutdown and engineering works on the rest of the rail network as there always are at this time of the year.

Now there will be disruption to British Airways flights on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Swissport – who provide ground handling services for airlines at eighteen UK airports – are striking from next Friday and Virgin Atlantic pilots will work to rule over a dispute about sole recognition of one union for pilots over another. And there is a work-to-rule on London Underground to boot.

Starting with the railways, from the 24h of December until the 29th there will be no Heathrow Express or Heathrow Connect services to and from London Paddington.

On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the Stansted Express services will be replaced by buses between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport. Cross Country services will be replaced by buses between Cambridge and Ely on the same days.

tal fins of British Airways planes

BAmay have more planes on the round than in the air on Christmas and Boxing Day

On Christmas Day, there will be no trains to or from Gatwick Airport. On 26 December, Gatwick Express and Southern services will run to and from Gatwick Airport, but there will be no Thameslink or Great Western Railway services.

Southern has strikes on the 19th and 20th of December; the 31st to the 2nd of January and the 9th-14th of January. That will affect the Gatwick Express service as well.

From December 21st until the 2nd of January there will some disruption on services to Manchester Airport due to engineering works.

Birmingham, Newcastle and Southampton Airports will, potentially, be the worst affected by the Swissport strike on the 23rd and 24th of December because there is no other ground handling company at those airports. Ground handlers are the people who move bags to and from planes, act as airline staff on occasion and handle things like refuelling.  Swissport is also at the following airports: Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds-Bradford, Luton, Manchester and Stansted. At Gatwick only Virgin Atlantic flights will be affected. Airports have contingency plans but allow a bit more time just in case.

image of terminal building at Newcastle Airport

and Newcastle Airport may be badly affected by the Swissport strike © Newcastle Airport

British Airways staff have decided that Christmas and Boxing days are strike days and about 40,000 people are expected to try and fly with the airline that day. It doesn’t affect other airlines in the group to which BA belongs like Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling.

The AA and the RAC are warning off the usual bottlenecks on roads such as the M25, M42, M62, M8 around Glasgow so it is tempting to stay at home. Estimates vary over how many of us will travel over Christmas but somewhere between 6 and 10 million (mostly on the roads) would be our guess.

Good luck if you are travelling. Me? I am staying at home

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