Emirates airline said on Thursday it had rejected demands by London’s Heathrow Airport to cut capacity despite being threatened with legal action, and that it would continue to operate to schedule.
Britain’s busiest airport this week asked airlines to stop selling tickets for summer flights, capping the number of daily passengers flying from the hub to 100,000 to ease pressure on operations that have resulted in delayed and cancelled flights.
“It is therefore highly regrettable that (Heathrow) last evening gave us 36 hours to comply with capacity cuts, of a figure that appears to be plucked from thin air,” Emirates said in a statement.
“Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance.
“Until further notice, Emirates plans to operate as scheduled to and from (Heathrow).”
Heathrow did not immediately provide a comment.
Emirates, owned by the government of Dubai, is one of the world's largest long-haul operators. It has no domestic market.
The airline said 70 percent of its passengers from Heathrow were booked to travel on connecting flights from Dubai, highlighting the impact the rejected cuts would have on its own operations.
It also said it was not practical to move flights at short notice to other British airports and that it would be impossible to rebook passengers with all its flights full over the coming weeks.
Tens of thousands of the airline's passengers would be affected by the cuts Heathrow had requested, it added.
Emirates accused Heathrow management of having “blatant disregard” for consumers and incompetence for failing to plan for the surge in demand the pandemic had suppressed since 2020.
The airline’s flights to and from Heathrow have regularly had high occupancy over the past 10 months, with Emirates saying it was clear there would be strong demand this summer.
“The shareholders of London Heathrow should scrutinize the decisions of the (Heathrow) management team,” it said.
Emirates said that dnata, a unit of its parent Emirates Group that provided ground handling and catering services at Heathrow, was capable and ready to handle its flights.
“So the crux of the issue lies with the central services and systems which are the responsibility of the airport operator.”
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