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Aviation

Unable to cope, Heathrow airport caps departing passengers at 100,000 a day

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London’s Heathrow said it would cap the number of departing passengers at 100,000 a day this summer to try to limit traveler disruption as it struggles to cope with a rebound in demand.

Airlines at Britain's busiest airport have already responded to a government appeal to cut capacity but Heathrow said it needed them to go further.

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It said airlines, baggage handlers and the airport could collectively serve 100,000 departing passengers, a number that had regularly been exceeded in recent weeks resulting in unacceptable levels of service.

Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye looks on at a news conference at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, May 17, 2021. (Reuters)
Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye looks on at a news conference at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, May 17, 2021. (Reuters)



“Some airlines have taken significant action, but others have not, and we believe that further action is needed now to ensure passengers have a safe and reliable journey,” Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said in a open letter to passengers on Tuesday.

“We have therefore made the difficult decision to introduce a capacity cap with effect from July 12 to September 11.”

“We recognize that this will mean some summer journeys will either be moved to another day, another airport or be cancelled and we apologize to those whose travel plans are affected,” he added.

The London hub said the cap was in-line with limits implemented at its rivals. Schiphol in the Netherlands has capped passenger numbers about 16 percent lower than 2019 levels, while Frankfurt has cut flights at peak times from 104 per hour to 94.

Heathrow said the average number of outbound seats still remaining in the summer schedules was 104,000 a day, 4,000 above its cap. It said on average 1,500 of these 4,000 seats had been sold to passengers.

“We are asking our airline partners to stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers,” he said.

British Airways, Heathrow’s biggest customer, has already cut thousands of flights from its schedules this summer due to staff shortages.

Heathrow on Monday apologized for the long queues and baggage issues customers had endured in recent weeks, blaming staff shortages across the whole aviation sector.

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