October 4, 2022

Heathrow extends daily passenger cap until end of October

Heathrow Airport has extended its daily passenger cap, designed to take the pressure off the rebuilding aviation industry, until late October.

The limit of 100,000 passengers to be handled per day – which was first imposed in mid-July and had previously been set to run until 11 September – will now remain in place until 29 October.

Carriers operating out of the west London airport must choose between sending flights away with some seats unsold, or cancelling departures and moving passengers to alternative flights, in order to limit passenger numbers.

On Monday Heathrow’s chief commercial officer Ross Baker said: “Our primary concern is ensuring we give our passengers a reliable service when they travel. That’s why we introduced temporary capacity limits in July which have already improved journeys during the summer getaway.

“We want to remove the cap as soon as possible, but we can only do so when we are confident that everyone operating at the airport has the resources to deliver the service our passengers deserve.”

British Airways, one of the main airlines at Heathrow, had already made substantial cuts to its planned schedule for summer 2022, taking some 30,000 flights out of the equation.

However, in July the airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye told customers in an open letter that the passenger cap would be implemented to avoid “periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable: long queue times, delays for passengers requiring assistance, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late, low punctuality and last-minute cancellations”.

On Friday, Mr Holland-Kaye told press that the measures had helped eased the pressures on the airport and improved service, saying: “Passengers are seeing better, more reliable journeys since the introduction of the demand cap.”

Heathrow said the cap could be lifted earlier if the airport continues to see sustained improved operations in the coming weeks.

Simon Calder, travel correspondent of The Independent, said: “This announcement, though not unexpected, means airline passengers will continue to see less availability and consequently higher fares right through to the October half term.

“With the main airline at Heathrow, British Airways, able to cancel many thousands of flights while retaining its full portfolio of slots, it is difficult to see that these actions have the travellers best interests at heart.”

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