UAE flag carrier Emirates has refused a request from London Heathrow Airport to cut flights in order to comply with a cap on its passenger numbers.
London’s busiest airport has recently asked carriers to reduce flights to mitigate disruptions during the peak summer season of travel.
A brewing dispute
Emirates has said that London Heathrow Airport had given the Gulf carrier only 36 hours to adhere to the airport’s request for capacity cuts and threatened to take legal action for non-compliance.
Emirates, in a statement, called London Heathrow’s request and followed behaviour “unreasonable” and “unacceptable”. They then asserted that they would be rejecting the airport’s demands.
The Dubai-based carrier continued:
“At London Heathrow Airport (LHR), our ground handling and catering – run by dnata, part of the Emirates Group – are fully ready and capable of handling our flights. So the crux of the issue lies with the central services and systems which are the responsibility of the airport operator.”
Having reinstated 6 daily Airbus A380 flights since October 2021 at Heathrow, Emirates said that as a result, “our operational requirements cannot be a surprise to the airport.”
Emirates believed that London Heathrow was acting with “blatant disregard for customers” by making them “deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers who have paid for, and booked months ahead, their long-awaited package holidays or trips to see their loved ones.”
The Emirates Group subsidiary added that “re-booking the sheer numbers of potentially impacted passengers is impossible with all flights running full for the next weeks”, as well as moving some of its passenger operations to other UK airports at such short notice.
The scathing statement concluded by criticising London Heathrow directly:
“LHR chose not to act, not to plan, not to invest. Now faced with an “airmageddon” situation due to their incompetence and non-action, they are pushing the entire burden – of costs and the scramble to sort the mess – to airlines and travellers.”
For now, Emirates will continue to operate as scheduled to and from London Heathrow Airport.
This little dispute between London Heathrow and Emirates comes just days after the airport capped the number of passengers it can handle at a time and, rather drastically, asked airlines to stop selling tickets. The London hub believes that the airport, airlines and ground handlers can collectively only serve 100,000 departing passengers a day during the busy summer period.
Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, commented on the matter in a statement on 12 July:
“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. We have therefore made the difficult decision to introduce a capacity cap with effect from 12 July to 11 September.”
“By making this intervention now, our objective is to protect flights for the vast majority of passengers at Heathrow this summer and to give confidence that everyone who does travel through the airport will have a safe and reliable journey and arrive at their destination with their bags.”
On a whole, the main worry at London Heathrow is to make sure existing staff are not pushing themselves to cope with the demand to the point where safety becomes an issue.
What do you make of this unfolding situation between Emirates and Heathrow? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.