In an open letter to flyers, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye announced the changes as a method to ensure smooth travels for everyone transiting through the air terminal.
“We Are Asking our Airline Partners to Stop Selling Summer Tickets”
After dealing with a month in which tens of thousands of passengers were hit by luggage system meltdowns and flight cancellations, Holland-Kaye announced changes geared to improve the passenger experience. Effective immediately, the airport will introduce a daily departure cap of 100,000 passengers per day in order to reduce pressure on current infrastructure.
“Over the past few weeks, as departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded 100,000 a day, we have started to see periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable,” Holland-Kaye wrote in the open letter to flyers. “Long queue times, delays for passengers requiring assistance, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late, low punctuality and last-minute cancellations.”
The leader of Britain’s busiest airport attributed the failures to several issues, including staffing levels at the facility. While Heathrow begun restaffing and ramping upwards since November 2021 in anticipation of an aviation resurgence, Holland-Kaye admits there are still serious shortcomings in training current staff and bringing on new ground handlers.
As a result, the airport is asking airlines to stop selling tickets for the remainder of the summer season. The hope is that by reducing the number of outbound seats available, the airport will be able to get caught up with staffing and return to normal operations by the fall.
“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,” Holland-Kaye wrote in the letter. “We have therefore made the difficult decision to introduce a capacity cap with effect from 12 July to 11 September. Similar measures to control passenger demand have been implemented at other airports both in the UK and around the world.”
In the meantime, the head of the airport is asking for flyers to remain patient with their upcoming flights. By arriving early and being prepared at the security and border checkpoints, Holland-Kaye hopes everyone can do their part to keep things running smoothly.
“We ask passengers to help, by making sure they have completed all their COVID requirements online before they come to the airport, by not arriving earlier than 3 hours before their flight, by being ready for security with laptops out of bags and liquids, aerosols and gels in a sealed 100ml plastic bag, and by using e-gates in immigration where eligible,” the letter concludes. “We are all recruiting as fast as we can and aim to return to the excellent service you should expect from the UK’s hub airport as soon as possible.”
Heathrow Cancellations Comes as U.S. Reaches Similar Tipping Point
The capacity cap at Heathrow comes as U.S.-based airlines could face fines from the federal government over similar cancellation issues. In June 2022, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced his agency could pursue fines against airlines for performance issues if they continue to degrade.
Source: frugal travel guy