Heathrow Airport warns more flight cancellations possibleon July 11, 2022 at 9:12 am

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The airport asks airlines to cut 61 flights on Monday, and warns of more disruption this summer.

Woman waiting at airport (stock picture)Image source, Getty Images

Heathrow Airport has apologised to passengers caught up in recent travel chaos but warned that more flights could be cancelled this summer.

In addition, the UK’s largest airport has asked airlines to remove 61 flights from Monday’s schedules, as it seeks to cope with soaring demand.

It is the latest “schedule intervention” Heathrow has undertaken.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said the airport would request “further action if necessary”.

Tens of thousands of passengers have been affected by disruption at UK airports and flight cancellations in recent months as the industry struggles to recruit staff after shedding jobs during Covid lockdowns.

The problem was particularly bad during Easter and the Platinum Jubilee and school half-term holiday.

The government and the aviation regulator wrote to carriers last month telling them to ensure their summer timetables were “deliverable”.

Heathrow has apologised to passengers affected by “long queue times, delays for passengers with reduced mobility, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late”, at times in recent weeks.

But it insisted most passengers had a good level of service, despite resourcing challenges at the airport, airlines, ground handlers and government agencies.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “I am very proud of the way that our team is rising to the challenge of growth, and giving excellent service to the vast majority of passengers.

“However, we have already seen times recently when demand exceeds the capacity of the airport, airlines and ground handlers.

“We will review the schedule changes that airlines have submitted in response to the government’s requirement to minimise disruption for passengers this summer and will ask them to take further action if necessary.”

Heathrow said it had asked airlines to remove 61 flights from Monday’s schedules, because more passengers are expected in Terminals 3 and 5 than the airport can currently serve.

Previous “schedule interventions” happened following problems with a baggage system, and because more passengers were expected than security staffing could cope with.

Heathrow said nearly six million passengers used the airport in June.

Flight cancellations

The entire aviation sector has struggled to bounce back from the pandemic, during which it cut thousands of jobs as the industry ground to a halt.

Now that travel has resumed, airlines are seeking to put on almost as many flights as they did before Covid, while finding it difficult to rehire workers.

According to aviation analytics firm Cirium, the number of last-minute flight cancellations from the UK was up 188% in June 2022, compared to June 2019 before the pandemic.

Last month, the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority wrote a joint letter to carriers, telling them to cancel flights they cannot deliver this summer.

They added that earlier cancellations were “better” than axing flights at the last minute.

Last week, British Airways said it was cutting 10,300 more short-haul flights due to feature in its schedule between August and the end of October.

This latest announcement, affecting Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports, means nearly 30,000 flights will have been removed from BA’s schedule between April and October this year.

Other airlines have also announced cancellations over the busy summer period.

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