Over the next five years Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) is expected to make dividend payments worth £1.5 billion to its shareholders.

Bumper dividends

The prediction on HAL’s bumper dividends is made by the Civil Aviation Authority in a highly authoritative report into the airport’s finances (see page 19).

The revelations about the forthcoming dividend bonanza coincides with the latest strike action by 1,400 security officers at the airport, who will walkout on 25, 26, and 27 May in a dispute over pay.

Mega pay outs

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “These figures underline all that is wrong with Heathrow airport - mega pay outs to the shareholders while the workers who generate the dividends are on poverty pay. 

“This report confounds HAL’s claims that there is not enough money to give its lowest paid workers a decent pay rise. The company knows it needs to do the right thing and pay our members a fair pay increase.”

Wage cuts

Unite’s research has revealed that since 2017, in real terms the average remuneration of HAL workers has fallen by 24 per cent. The company fired and rehired its entire workforce at the height of Covid in 2020, which dramatically cut the pay of many of its workforce.

Unite has discovered that Heathrow security officers are paid less than workers at other major airports in London and the South East. The officers, who were the highest paid prior to the Covid pandemic, are now paid between £5,000 and £6,000 per annum less than their counterparts at Stansted and Gatwick.

Heathrow no defence

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “There is absolutely no justification for security officers at Heathrow being paid far less than comparable officers at other London airports.

“Heathrow regularly trumpets how successful it is as the UK’s premium airport so there is no defence in it paying bargain basement wages. Heathrow can clearly meet a cost of living increase for our members; they’re deliberately choosing not to, pushing our members deeper into financial difficulties.”


Notes to editors

A recent survey of Heathrow security officers found that many are leaving the job due to a combination of low rates of pay and a very difficult working environment:

  • More than eight out of 10 say they are worse off than last year
  • One in four say they have been forced to cut back on essentials (food, housing, energy)
  • One in six say they are deeper in debt after borrowing money from friends and family
  • Two out of three report that they have been verbally abused by passengers in the last year
  • Nine out of 10 staff say the irregular shift pattern leaves them permanently tired at work
  • One in three say constant shift work has adversely affected their physical health and family life

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.