Workers at airports including Heathrow and Gatwick are to stage a series of strikes in the New Year, threatening travel chaos for passengers, it was announced today.
Workers including firefighters will walk out at 6am on January 7 for 24 hours, at 6am on January 14 for 24 hours and at 6am on January 17 for 48 hours.
The strikes are in protest at the closure of the final salary pension scheme for new workers at airports operator BAA.
The union said the strike would cause huge disruption and could even close the airports involved - Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Workers involved in the industrial action include firefighters, maintenance and security staff and clerical workers.
The strikes follow a vote in favour of industrial action by 1,946 members of the Unite Union, with 1,108 voting against.
National Officer Brendan Gold said: "This is a 2-1 vote for strike action which is a powerful mandate and a strong message to BAA to think again."
Virgin Atlantic said today that it plans to run most of its flights during two proposed 48-hour strikes in the New Year by cabin crew over pay.
The airline said just three return flights will be cancelled on January 9, 10, 16 and 17, when members of the Unite union walk out.
On January 9 one outbound flight to New York (JFK), one return flight to Chicago and a return flight to Boston will be cancelled.
On January 10 one return flight to New York (JFK), one return flight to Chicago and a return flight to Boston will be hit.
On January 16 one outbound flight to New York (JFK), one return flight to Chicago and a return flight to Nairobi will be cancelled and on January 17 one return flight to New York, one return flight to Chicago and one return flight to Nairobi will be grounded.
As a result of the action, one New York inbound flight will be cancelled on both January 11 and 18.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway said: "Our main priority now is to ensure that we can get as many of our passengers to their destinations as possible.
"We do not want to let them down so we have put in place thorough contingency plans which will enable us to run nine out of 10 flights on each of the days affected by the action."