About 950 workers at Gatwick airport will take eight days of strike action beginning later this month in a dispute over pay.
Gatwick said airline contingency plans should allow flights to operate but the news of strikes affecting schedules, on top of air traffic control issues, will raise fears of another difficult summer after the labour shortages of 2022.
Unite said members who carry out roles including baggage handling and check-in would strike. They are employed by ASC, Menzies Aviation, GGS and DHL Services.
The workers will strike initially for four days, beginning on Friday 28 July and ending on Tuesday 1 August, followed by a further four days from Friday 4 August until Tuesday 8 August.
Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Our members at Gatwick airport undertake incredibly demanding roles and are essential to keeping the airport and airlines working, yet their employers somehow think it is acceptable to pay them a pittance.
“As part of Unite’s unyielding focus on the jobs, pay and condition of its members, the union has drawn a line in the sand and is committed to eradicating the scourge of low pay at the airport.”
Earlier this week, the union announced a deal for a 16% pay rise for security staff at Gatwick employed by ICTS and said that it would be “a benchmark for all other pay deals” at the airport.
Unite said the airlines affected by the coming strikes included British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, Tui, WestJet and Wizz. More than 4,400 flights are scheduled to depart from Gatwick over the planned strike days, according to data from the analytics firm Cirium.
A Gatwick spokesperson said: “We are aware of the recent ballot result and will support our airlines with their contingency plans to ensure that flights operate as scheduled.”
Gatwick has suffered disruption in recent weeks because of air traffic control issues in Europe, with airspace constrained by the war in Ukraine and a series of strikes in local control centres around the continent.
It is one of the busiest single-runway airports in the world, and last week submitted a planning application to develop a second runway.
Elsewhere, 150 Birmingham airport security guards and terminal technicians in Unite are preparing to start an all-out strike from next Tuesday in a row over pay.
A threatened summer of strikes at Heathrow by security guards in the Unite union was called off last month after 18 days of walkouts this year, with the London airport agreeing a two-year deal worth at least 15.5%.