London’s Heathrow Airport is capping the number of passengers allowed to fly out, citing insufficient resources
Heathrow Airport, London, has asked airlines not to sell tickets during the summer. It insists that it can only carry 100,000 passengers daily until September 11.
The airport’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, wrote that “We have noticed periods where service is reduced to unacceptable levels as departure passengers have been regularly exceeding 100,000 per day..” Acknowledging massive flight delays, failures in baggage transportation, and last-minute cancellations, he blamed there being too many passengers and not enough employees.
“Heathrow saw 40 years worth of passenger growth within four months,” Holland-Kaye stated in the letter, claiming the airport had been recruiting since November in anticipation of demand spikes over the summer and promising to have as many security workers by the end of July as the airport employed prior to the pandemic.
Holland-Kaye stated that an inordinate number of seats have been sold, contradicting previous promises. He blames airlines for not cancelling more flights when they had the option to without having to risk future cuts to their slots allotment.
A government “amnesty” allowed airports to cancel more flights in advance than was previously permitted. Airlines were given until last Friday to give back airport slots they weren’t planning on using without running the usual risk of being denied a larger number of slots in the future.
However, Holland-Kaye warned that “Even with the amnesty the daily departures of seats will be on the average 104,000 per day during the summer,,” which is 4,000 seats more than the airport is prepared to handle. With about 1,500 of those 4,000 daily seats sold already, the CEO is hoping to prevent further bookings to “Limit the effect on passengers”
Heathrow is one of many European airports that are suffering major staff shortages. It has had to lay off many employees since the Covid-19 epidemic, while some have left. Passengers who have remained at home for the past two decades are keen to use the opportunity to fly once more after the removal of vaccination and testing requirements. This is something that representatives of the airline industry said they should have expected.
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International Air Transport Association Director General Willie Walsh pointed out that “Airlines have predicted stronger traffic than Heathrow.,” arguing “[Heathrow]Evidently, they were completely off the mark.” and calling the London hub’s demands “ridiculous.”
Heathrow had an average of 220,000 passengers daily between departures and arrivals before the pandemic. Gatwick has also set summer limits for passengers.
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