Heathrow tells airlines to stop selling tickets for summer travel

12 July 2022, 11:24 | Updated: 12 July 2022, 12:59

There has been baggage chaos and long queues at Heathrow Airport in recent months.
There has been baggage chaos and long queues at Heathrow Airport in recent months. Picture: Stuart Dempster/Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Heathrow Airport has told airlines to stop selling summer tickets as it imposed a cap on passenger numbers, threatening further travel disruption.

The new limit of 100,000 daily passengers - which amounts to a cut of 4,000 passengers a day - will be in place until 11 September, the airport said.

Airlines planned to operate flights with a daily capacity averaging 104,000 seats over that period, according to Heathrow.

The airport's chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the passenger cap is being introduced to stop service dropping to "unacceptable" levels.

The measure will lead to more cancellations on top of the thousands of flights axed in recent months.

Passengers whose flights are affected will not be entitled to compensation as the reason for the cancellations will be classified as being outside the control of airlines - leaving many families out of pocket.

Read more: Summer rail shutdown: Train drivers back biggest industrial action 'in 25 years'

Mr Holland-Kaye said: "Over the past few weeks, as departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded 100,000 a day, we have started to see periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable."

Problems include long queue times, delays for passengers requiring assistance, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late, low punctuality and last-minute cancellations, Mr Holland-Kaye said.

He said this is due to a combination of poor punctuality of arrivals due to delays at other airports and in European airspace, as well as increased passenger numbers "starting to exceed the combined capacity of airlines, airline ground handlers and the airport".

He added: "Our colleagues are going above and beyond to get as many passengers away as possible, but we cannot put them at risk for their own safety and wellbeing."

The aviation industry is under severe pressure as a surge in demand for travel coincides with staff shortages across roles such as airline crew, ground handlers, airport security staff and air traffic controllers.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled and many passengers have been forced to wait for several hours in long queues at airports in recent months.

British Airways workers based at the west London airport are deciding on strike dates which are likely to be during the peak summer holiday period.

Members of the GMB and Unite unions, including check-in staff, voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay.

It comes as the Government has introduced a slot amnesty, which enables airlines to temporarily hand back without punishment any take-off and landing slots they do not have the resources to use.

Under normal rules, carriers lose slots if they do not use them.

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