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London Heathrow Airport says it will restrict passengers

Business London Heathrow Airport says it will limit passengers for the summer

Faced with staff shortages that severely limited capacity, the airport chief called on airlines to stop selling tickets until September.

LONDON – Heathrow Airport on Tuesday said it would limit passenger numbers until mid-September, citing staff shortages caused by long lines, delays, lost baggage and last-minute flight cancellations.

In an open letter to passengers, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye called on airlines to stop selling new tickets as vital functions at the airport are severely restricted.

“We recognize that this will mean that some summer trips will be diverted to another day, to another airport or canceled, and we apologize to those affected by their travel plans,” he said. In recent weeks, there have been periods when the service has dropped to an “unacceptable level,” he said.

Mr Holland-Kaye said the airport could not handle more than 100,000 departing passengers each day, slightly less than the 104,000 it estimated would be expected on average. He called on airlines to limit the number of tickets sold to return numbers below 100,000.

Asked how Heathrow would enforce the capacity limit, airport spokeswoman Hannah Smith said this would be overseen by an independent coordinator, Airport Coordination Limited.

The airport coordinator said in a statement that compliance with Heathrow’s request was voluntary, as there was no mechanism in Britain that allowed him to remove allocated runway slots from airlines. The company said it would calculate the required passenger reduction for each airline, and that airlines could decide which flights would be canceled or whether they would comply with the application at all.

Virgin Atlantic, one of Britain’s largest carriers, said in a statement that it was ready to deliver its full schedule this summer.

“However, we support the proactive measures being taken by Heathrow to reduce disruption, as long as the proposed action does not disproportionately affect domestic carriers at the airport,” the airline said. “Action should be based on a thorough analysis that shows the most effective measures to improve the situation and keep customers moving.”

Summer travel in Europe has been ruined by chaos at airports and airlines are struggling with staff shortages amid a boom in passengers eager to travel after a pandemic lockout. Last week, the Viking airline filed SAS for bankruptcy protection after its pilots went on strike. Airport and airline staffing also took place across Europe, amid frustrations with long hours and low wages that did not keep up with rising inflation.

Similar measures have been introduced at other airports. Last month, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport introduced a capacity limit, citing security employee shortages and demand for air travel far above expectations, while London’s Gatwick Airport also said last month it would reduce flights for a month. July and August. British Airways said it would operate on an 11 per cent reduction schedule through October.

Mr Holland-Kaye said Heathrow began recruiting in November, in anticipation of high demand for summer travel, but that some key roles were still scarce for staff, including ground handlers, who airlines contract to loading and unloading bags, turning around and delivering aircraft. passenger check – in services.

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