Passengers taking British Airways flights from Gatwick airport face not being supplied with food or drink on flights this spring if HGV drivers take industrial action, in a dispute over pay.

The HGV drivers, over 50 of who are members of Unite, are employed by Alpha Flight UK Limited, which is BA’s sole supplier of inflight food at Gatwick airport.

Reneging on agreement

The dispute is a result of Alpha Flight UK, reneging on an agreement with Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, to introduce a market rate alignment pay allowance for the HGV drivers, who are currently paid below the going rate.

The industrial action ballot opens today (Thursday 14 February) and will close on Thursday 28 February. If, as expected, the drivers vote in favour of industrial action then the dispute could begin by mid-March and affect the Easter getaway.

If drivers do take industrial action then Alpha Flight UK will not be able to transport food from its on-site warehouse. The tight security airside at Gatwick precludes alternative options.

100 per cent in favour of industrial action

Unite has already undertaken a consultative ballot of the drivers which produced a 100 per cent vote in favour of industrial action.

Alpha Flight at fault

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: “Our members have already strongly indicated that they are fully prepared to take industrial action and the formal ballot is expected to confirm this.

“This dispute is directly a result of Alpha Flight reneging on its promises to pay its HGV drivers a fair market rate for the job.

“If industrial action takes place then it will result in all British Airways’ flights from Gatwick not having food and drink supplies on board. While this will impact on the comfort of passengers it must be understood this is directly a result of the actions of Alpha Flight.

“If industrial action is to be avoided than Alpha Flight must offer its drivers a fair rate of pay.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: [email protected]

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