Baggage chaos threatens at four UK airports, as Scandi...

Baggage chaos threatens at four UK airports, as Scandinavian firm pulls out

18 October 2016

Christmas travel disruption is on the cards at four UK airports, unless Scandinavian baggage carrier Aviator, which is closing its operations on 30 November, manages to transfer about 1,700 staff to other handlers.

Unite, the country’s largest union, understands that Aviator is closing down its UK operations at Birmingham, Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle airports because it is not making money.

Unite today (Tuesday 18 October) called for clarity about what Aviator is planning to do to ensure smooth continuity of check-in, refuelling, and baggage handling  services, otherwise, the union warned, Christmas travel disruption was possible.

The union called on the airlines and/or airport owners to take on the Aviator workforce as a matter of urgency and to end the current state of limbo.

Unite said that there were about 1,200 Aviator staff at Gatwick servicing BA, Norwegian, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Virgin. There were 196 staff at Birmingham looking after 14 airlines, including Air India, American Airlines, Monarch, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines.

At Manchester, there was a 192-strong workforce servicing Norwegian, Thomas Cook and SAS. At Newcastle, there were 145 employees and the airlines included BMI and easyJet.

Unite national officer for civil air transport Oliver Richardson said: “Unite will be seeking assurances from the company, airlines, other handlers and ultimately, the airports that there will be no compulsory redundancies

“It is a matter of serious concern for both our members and the traveling public that so close to Christmas most of the airlines have not announced where their baggage handling and check-in contracts are going.

“The airport owners and the airlines, which require these services for their planes to land and take-off efficiently, need to get their skates on to sort this out, without any detriment to the staff jobs, pay and conditions, otherwise Christmas travel chaos is on the cards.”


Notes to editors:

According to its website, Aviator had a turnover of approximately €212m in 2015 and actively employs more than 4,200 personnel. It is a full-range provider of aviation services, taking care of passengers and equipment at 22 airports from Helsinki to London-Gatwick.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.