Heathrow airport said on Tuesday that it would impose an artificial passenger capacity cap on airlines until September 11 because the airport didn’t have enough staff and other resources to deal with the passenger numbers expected to pass through the airport over the next few months.
The beleaguered airport said it anticipated around 104,000 passengers to pass through the airport daily but its modelling suggested that there were only enough resources to deal with a maximum of 100,000 passengers per day.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland Kaye said some airlines had heeded its warnings several weeks ago and had already taken action to draw back their summer schedules. Other airlines had, however, ignored those concerns and carried out selling flights without making any adjustments.
The boss of British Airways, which has slashed its short-haul schedule by as much as 13 per cent until October, has criticised competitors who haven’t tried to reduce schedules in anticipation of staffing shortages.
Last week, Emirates said it had “secured” its schedule for the summer and had no plans to reduce its European flights. The Dubai-based carrier currently operates six daily flights to Heathrow with a capacity for more than 3,000 passengers.
Holland-Kaye suggested the airport was imposing an artificial cap because some airlines had chosen not to cooperate with it.
“Our assessment is that the maximum number of daily departing passengers that airlines, airline ground handlers and the airport can collectively serve over the summer is no more than 100,000,” Holland-Kaye said on Tuesday.
Of the 4,000 daily seat excess, around 1,500 seats have already been sold.
The airport said it started to recruit new security staff and other employees back in November 2021 but that training took time and inexperienced staff were still slower than longer-serving workers.
Yesterday, British Airways was forced to send some flights out without any food loaded because catering trucks couldn’t get through understaffed security checkpoints.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.