Passengers using Gatwick in the run-in to Christmas face disruption due to a strike threat in a row over pensions.

Around 1,800 security staff, firefighters, airfield operations and surface transport workers are to vote on industrial action over the closure of their final salary pension scheme due to a reported £90 million shortfall.

The Unite union is to ballot members for strike action and action short of strike from next Friday (28 October 28) following a 96% vote in favour in a recent consultative ballot.

The ballot closes on November 16 and the union would need to give the airport at least seven days notice before any walk-out.

Gatwick owner Global Infrastructure Partners saw profits ride by 40% to £142 million last year.

Unite officer Phil Silkstone said: “Our members are rightly furious.

“The pension deficit is easily affordable and could have been wiped out with the £178 million in shareholder pay-outs it has made over the last few years.”

A Gatwick spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: “Gatwick airport, like any business, will regularly monitor reward packages to ensure that they remain competitive and to safeguard the long-term future for our employees, passengers and local community.

“We fully appreciate that pensions are a personal and sensitive topic and it goes without saying that we are taking this forward in a collaborative manner.

“We will continue to engage, consult and collect the views of employees and encourage members of the defined benefits plan to use the consultation process to air views, understand the issues facing the scheme and ask questions.”