Airport baggage handlers and check-in staff are set to launch a series of 48-hour strikes next week in a row over pay, it was announced today.

Unite said workers at Heathrow and Aberdeen airports employed by SAS Ground Services will take action from December 22, with further walkouts planned on Boxing Day and January 3.

The stoppages will hit travellers on Turkish, Emirates and Thai airlines at London Heathrow and KLM, Air France, Wideroe and Atlantic at Aberdeen, said Unite.

Kevin Hall, Unite's regional industrial officer, said: "It is deeply regrettable that our members have been forced into a position where they have to threaten industrial action over the Christmas and New Year period to get this company to play fair. A strike will cause considerable disruption to the travelling public at a very busy time of year.

"We have been trying to get this company to move on a fair wage deal for months now. It is obscene that they can fill the pockets of their directors yet deny workers fair wages and a decent pension, particularly as last year the UK workforce took job losses and pay cuts to help the company through a difficult time."