Several airports in the Highlands and Islands area of Scotland will be shut for flights Thursday as air traffic control staff prepare to stage a 24-hour strike.

Members of the Prospect union will walk out from 0001 until 2359 on 23 May in a pay dispute. The union claims Inglis Lyon, MD of Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) is ‘antagonising’ staff “by presenting a deliberately misleading account of the position of their union in this dispute”.

The strike has forced HIAL to make the decision to shut Inverness airport during the strike, along with Benbecula, Dundee, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh.

HIAL has a local arrangement in place for Wick John O’Groats that will allow the airport to remain open. Hubs at Barra, Campbeltown, Islay and Tiree will also remain open.

Loganair is likely to feel the biggest impact from the walk-out, as it operates the majority of flights to and from the airports affected. The carrier is adding extra services Friday to help passengers who will be unable to travel during the strike.

Easyjet has warned passengers about disruption to its Inverness flights and is offering passengers the chance to change or cancel their booking free of charge. It is operating an additional flight between Gatwick and Inverness on Friday.

Prospect says it has found discrepancies between the pay for HIAL air traffic control staff and those working at Edinburgh, Glasgow and London airports.

The union’s negotiator David Avery commented: “We want this dispute to be resolved in a satisfactory manner, and this kind of communication to staff is not helpful as part of that process.

“It is welcome that HIAL has acknowledged that the Scottish government is the major obstacle to progress here. Instead of further winding up staff, HIAL should be focusing on persuading Scottish government ministers to help them resolve this dispute by granting them the flexibility to negotiate an acceptable pay deal.”

Commenting on Prospect’s pay discrepancy claim, Lyon said: “Air traffic movements make this comparison misleading and unrealistic. Furthermore, the evidence from the analysis of air traffic controller pay at non-HIAL airports jointly undertaken by HIAL and Prospect did not support a double-digit wage award. We believe HIAL air traffic controllers are well remunerated and have already accepted a pay increase backdated to April 2018.”

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