15/08/2005

Catering dispute talks as BA flights resume

Talks in an attempt to resolve an industrial dispute that had sparked the chaos which stranded 70,000 passengers at Heathrow, are expected to resume today.

The sacking of around 670 workers at in-flight meals company Gate Gourmet led to sympathy action by BA baggage handlers.

The action led to severe disruption at London Heathrow, but BA today said that they "expected British Airways services into and out of London Heathrow continue to return to normal following the unofficial industrial action taken by some of the airline's staff and employees at the catering supplier at London Heathrow, Gate Gourmet."

Short haul flights should return to normal on Monday, and BA said that plans to operate 100 per cent of flights were in place.

A spokesperson for BA said: "This return to normal for UK and European flights is a day earlier than originally envisaged.

"The long haul operation is also returning to normal with plans to operate over 95 per cent of flights for the next couple of days.

We apologise unreservedly to our customers. This is an unprecedented situation. We are doing everything we can to help our customers and have drafted in additional staff from around the airline to assist."

BA have emphasised that other flights operating out of Gatwick and UK regions are operating as normal.

Passengers intending to travel either to or from Heathrow have been advised to check details of their flights, but BA said that all flights are planned to operate unless specifically shown as 'cancelled' on Arrivals and Departures information.

Flights on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday were disrupted and passengers without a confirmed booking and still wish to travel on BA should contact British Airways in the UK on 0800 727 800, as should those whose flights have been cancelled. In the USA or Canada contact BA on 1-800-AIRWAYS, their local British Airways offices worldwide or their travel agent.

According to BA all their flights in and out of Heathrow continue to have "very limited onboard catering" due to the industrial dispute at Gate Gourmet.

The spokesperson for BA said: "Arrangements have been made for limited catering to be provided on the ground prior to departure. Customers are strongly advised to eat before leaving for the airport or to allow extra time at the airport to eat.

"We apologise to those customers who are affected by this action but, regrettably, this is a situation beyond our control."

(SP)

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