Unions have called off a planned strike by baggage handlers and check-in staff at Gatwick and Stansted on Bank Holiday Monday after receiving a revised pay offer from ground-handler Swissport.


The strike action has been suspended pending a ballot on the new offer made following 12 hours of talks at arbitration service Acas yesterday.


However, a separate strike by 30 security scanners at Stansted, also over pay, remains due to go ahead on Monday and could cause delays. The staff are employed by a separate company, Airfield Services.


The strike over pay at Swissport would have hit Thomsonfly, First Choice Airways, Monarch and Virgin Atlantic at Gatwick, and Ryanair and EasyJet at Stansted. Swissport workers at Manchester were due to strike next Wednesday, with follow-up strikes at all three airports. Airlines had prepared contingency plans and intended to try to operate normally.


The unions had earlier rejected a 3% pay offer and have been seeking at least 5%, along with withdrawal of a company proposal to withhold sick pay for the first three days of any illness. A spokesman for union Unite said: “A baggage handler could sustain an injury at work and be denied sick pay. Our members are upset.”


Travel Association ABTA had avoided issuing advice until it was clear whether the strikes would go ahead. A spokesman said: “Threatening to strike over a bank holiday puts a union in a strong negotiating position. Very few strikes go ahead.”


The trade body has predicted two million people will travel abroad from the UK over the weekend.