Heathrow is struggling with the surge in passenger numbers after the pandemic. Having already told airlines to cut passenger numbers, it is now saying that numbers need to go down further.
Airlines such as British Airways and easyJet have already responded to the airport’s previous requests and have reduced numbers. Now, according to Reuters news agency, Heathrow has capped the number of passengers flying from the airport to 100,000 a day to limit queues, baggage delays and cancellations. This is, according to the BBC, 4000 fewer than already scheduled meaning that airlines are going to have to cancel 4000 tickets per day. The cap on passenger numbers will be in place from now until 11 September.
Inconvenience to Customers
Now that the summer holidays for schools are coming up, more people and in particular, families, are going to be hard pressed as demand will increase. Before the pandemic, Heathrow had between 110,000 and 125,000 passengers per day in July and August 2019. This means that the airport and airlines are likely to lose significant amounts of money with airport numbers being capped at 100,000 per day. In addition, shops and restaurants in the airports are likely to be affected by lower customer volumes. To make matters worse, flights are being cancelled meaning that those who have already made holiday plans are likely to be terribly affected. With 4000 flights per day being cancelled the number of passengers being affected is significant.
In light of the problems likely to be faced by passengers, the consumer group Which? has asked the airport which flights would be cancelled as a result of this latest announcement. Guy Hobbs, acting editor of Which? Travel has stated that whilst capping the numbers of passengers will reduce the unacceptable chaos at the airport, thousands of passengers will be worried about whether their holiday plans are about to fall apart. He also adds that Heathrow should work with airlines to clarify which flights will be cancelled and to inform passengers at the earliest opportunity. Passengers should also be informed of their rights to be rebooked with another airline if necessary. A spokesperson for Heathrow has stated that it would take a couple of days for airlines to liaise with the scheduling company, Airport Coordination Limited, to work out what changes would be needed.
Response from the CEO
CEO of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, has written an open letter saying that airlines were asked to reduce the numbers themselves, however, although some responded, others did not. This meant that they had to take action themselves and cap the numbers. He has said that as a result some holidays will be moved, and others cancelled. He understands the inconvenience caused and has apologised to passengers.
As one can see, Heathrow is struggling to deal with increased demand for flights. However, this is not a new problem and airports and airlines have been having issues for months. In addition, it does appear that other airports such as Schiphol in the Netherlands and Frankfurt in Germany have also cut passenger numbers. So, therefore, Heathrow is not unique in having issues with increased demand. We’ll have to wait and see how this progresses over the summer ahead.