World Cup fans to face flight disruption due to Heathrow workers’ strike

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Around 700 workers at Heathrow Airport (LHR) in the United Kingdom will go on a three-day strike demanding a pay increase, impacting flights at major carriers and disrupting soccer fans.  

The industrial action is set to cause flight disruptions for Qatar Airways and other airlines operating out of the airport, because the event coincides with November 20, 2022, the day when the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament kicks off. 

According to Unite the Union, the UK’s second-largest trade union, the strike action is set to start in the early hours of November 18 and last until early November 21, 2022. The union warned that the strike could result in operational disruptions, including flight delays and cancelations at LHR airport. 

The airport employees, which include workers in various roles, such as ground handling, airside transport, and cargo staff, are demanding better pay, the union said. 

“Both Dnata and Menzies [the employers, ed.-] have only been prepared to offer pay cuts disguised as pay increases. Dnata has offered its workers a five percent increase, while the offers for Menzies workers vary between two and six percent. All the offers are far below the real rate of inflation (RPI), which currently stands at 12.6 percent,” said Unite in a statement, which was released on November 4, 2022.  

“Both companies operate globally and are highly lucrative. Menzies’ latest accounts reveal it made a profit of £69 million while Dnata’s profit was £27 million,” the union said. 

Which airlines will be most affected? 

The strike will “heavily hit” the operations of various airlines, including Virgin Atlantic Airways, Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY), Cathay Pacific, and Emirates, Unite predicted. 

However, the strike coordinator warned that flights of Qatar Airways, the main air carrier of the World Cup, will be affected the most. 

Passengers returning to the United States for the Thanksgiving holiday are also set to be impacted, United added. 

Qatar Airways has scheduled 10 additional passenger flights per week during the 28-day-long soccer tournament, which will take place between November 21 to December 18, 2022. 

“Strike action will inevitably cause disruption, delays and cancellations to flights throughout Heathrow, with travellers to the World Cup particularly affected,” Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said. “However, this dispute is entirely of Dnata and Menzies own making. They have had every opportunity to make a fair pay offer but have chosen not to do so.” 


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