Heathrow Airport has been plagued by delays, lost luggage, staffing issues and cancelled flights. Now the airport has asked airlines to stop selling tickets for summer travel as it attempts to sort itself out.
Heathrow airport has followed the lead of Gatwick and Schiphol (which have had crazy scenes of their own) and is now imposing a two month long cap on daily passenger traffic. The limit aims to relieve the travel mayhem that has plagued Heathrow during summer so far, as demand for travel continues to surge.
Daily passenger traffic will be capped at 100,000 departing people through to the 11th of September, and carriers have been asked to stop selling so many summer tickets. According to Bloomberg, current forecasts are modelling “for as many as 104,000 passengers a day over the summer,” while the usual number of daily passengers going through Heathrow (before the pandemic) were 125,000.
This move has come after Heathrow staff have struggled with so many people, with many new workers not yet up to speed (there was a mass exodus during the pandemic, and many of the old workers have now found new jobs) and with certain crucial jobs (like baggage handling) lacking in resources.
As the BBC reports, “Airport security staff shortages are a particular problem, as it can take months to get workers the clearance they need to operate airside.” According to Airlines UK, companies have cut about 30,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic. So that’s a big hole to plug.
Heathrow’s Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye said the purpose of the cap was “to protect flights for the vast majority of passengers at Heathrow this summer” while recognising “this will mean some summer journeys will either be moved to another day, another airport or be cancelled” and apologising to those whose travel plans will be affected.
Passengers arriving extra early (more than 3 hours early), after hearing about the chaos and fearing they might lose their flight, has also, ironically, made the airport chaos even worse.
It’s not just Heathrow that is suffering. The BBC reports: “About a million existing bookings on domestic and European routes from London Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports have been cancelled.”
Happy flying and… good luck. If you’re travelling around Europe this summer, you’re probably going to need it.