Heathrow airport on Thursday asked airlines to cancel flights over safety concerns.
The hub said it expects more passengers than it can serve.
Cancellations at other airports have contributed to the problem, a spokesperson told Insider.
Heathrow, the UK’s largest airport, on Thursday asked airlines to cancel flights over concerns it lacks the capacity to handle rising passenger numbers.
On Wednesday evening, Heathrow asked airlines to cancel 30 flights that were scheduled to depart on Thursday morning, citing safety concerns.
“We expect higher passenger numbers in today’s morning rush hour than the airport can currently serve, which is why we have asked airlines to remove 30 flights from the morning rush hour only today,” a Heathrow spokesperson said in a statement. †
While 98% of flights are expected to start as planned, some affected passengers claimed they didn’t find out until Thursday morning when they arrived at the airport. Bloomberg†
The ensuing queues and delays mean even more misery for passengers as the global airline industry struggles to meet the demand for summer travel.
A long-standing shortage of pilots, baggage handlers and customer service representatives, compounded by the fact that many have been laid off during the pandemic, has left many operators and hubs under-capacity at a time when pent-up travel demand is reaching its peak.
The result has been a spate of flight cancellations and delays as executives have adjusted their flight plans to minimize disruption.
A spokesperson told Insider Thursday’s passenger numbers were expected to be 13% higher than the week before, which had “stretched resources across the airport”.
The spokesperson told Insider the increase was caused by a spike in last-minute bookings from passengers whose flights at other airports have been canceled.
The airport raised its forecast for the number of passengers it expects to handle this year from 52.2 million to 54.4 million in an investor report published on June 23.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye has previously said it could take up to 18 months for the industry to reach capacity†
The majority of flights affected on Thursday were British Airways routes, per The Guardian† The airline has already reduced its summer schedule by 10%†
UK government has urged airports to end wave of last minute flight cancellations† In a joint letter sent to business leaders on June 15, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the air regulator Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) urged airlines to “develop a schedule that is deliverable.”
The British government has also relaxed rules around landing slots at the country’s busiest airports. Normally, airlines must use allocated take-off and landing slots at least 70% of the time. Under the amnesty, airlines can return slots without fear of losing them permanently, according to The Guardian†
Read the original article Business Insider