Travel insurers are downplaying the likelihood of huge numbers of claims following the wildcat strikes that paralysed Heathrow Airport and grounded British Airways flights.

AXA travel product manager Steve Wilcox said: "Calls are coming through and we are talking to the outsourced companies which handle many of our claims. But I do not see that as being particularly serious for us."

He said those most likely to claim would have decided to abandon their travel and to return home. "It seems many people did stay on at the airport and went to their destinations a couple of days late. They will be looking to their tour operators for compensation or British Airways."

Wilcox added that claims paid would be relatively low value, typically for food and possibly overnight accommodation.