Heathrow said it was putting “contingency plans” in place and drafting in 1,000 extra staff to help passengers over the holiday period, as well as its management team.
But British Airways has cancelled around 5 per cent of its flights during the industrial action and has stopped selling tickets for strike days. The cancellations fall on short-haul routes and the long-haul services are not affected.
A BA spokesman said: “Following Heathrow’s requirement for us to reduce the number of passengers travelling during the period of its employees’ proposed strike action, we’ve regrettably had to make a small number of adjustments to our schedule.
“We’ve apologised to customers whose travel plans have been affected and have offered them a range of options, including rebooking on to a new flight with us or another airline, or requesting a full refund.
“Our teams are continuing to work closely with Heathrow to ensure that our customers’ journeys run smoothly.”
Most of the workers involved in the strike are employed as security officers at Terminal 5, which is used exclusively by British Airways. A smaller number work for the airport’s Campus security team, which operates control posts that give vehicles access to the airfield.
Airlines are being asked if they will voluntarily limit the number of passengers by offering flexible re-booking to customers travelling during the strike, and stopping sales of seats on flights departing Heathrow.
Heathrow’s management has said that pay talks can resume only if plans for the industrial action are suspended, and that security staff have been offered a 10 per cent pay rise plus “further enhancements”.
But Unite said the offer “is in reality a real terms pay cut”, with security staff currently paid “as little as £24,000 a year” following years of pay freezes and pay cuts. The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said the “poverty wages” meant staff were “simply unable to make ends meet” and were “forced to take strike action due to need not greed”.
A spokesperson for Heathrow said the airport’s management would “not let these unnecessary strikes impact the hard-earned holidays of our passengers”.
“Our contingency plans will keep the airport operating as normal throughout,” they said. “We are deploying 1,000 additional colleagues and the entire management team, who will be in the terminals providing assistance to passengers over the busy Easter getaway.
“As at any busy time, it may take a little longer than usual to get through security, but this will be well-managed and kept flowing.
“Passengers can help us ensure they get the best start to their journeys by checking their flight status with their airline before travelling to the airport, arriving at Heathrow no earlier than two hours before short-haul flights and three hours before long-haul flights, and by being ready for security with their compliant liquids and electronics out of their hand luggage.”
Additional reporting by PA