Swissport closes Heathrow operation

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Apo tin simerini Guardian

A union leader predicted further failures in airport servicing firms following the collapse yesterday of Swissport's operations at Heathrow with 750 job losses. Swissport provided check-in and baggage services for 11 airlines at Britain's biggest airport, including Aer Lingus, El Al, Swiss and Air China. It was due to handle 74 flights yesterday- equivalent to 5% of the airport's traffic. Staff turning up for work early in the morning were ordered to hand in their passes. The business was placed under control of administrators from the accountancy firm Deloitte following deadlock in negotiations over cuts in pay and pensions. Swissport operates in 34 countries and has 22,000 staff worldwide. Its operations include Groundstar- which provides services at Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Birmingham. A Swissport spokesman insisted that the Heathrow situation was unique and that none of the group's other operations would be affected. Airport operators BAA said flights from Heathrow were largely unaffected. Airlines used other ground handling firms or flew in additional staff of their own.

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