Heathrow passengers face more uncertainty as capacity limit is extended |  Heathrow

Heathrow passengers face more uncertainty as capacity limit is extended | Heathrow

Heathrow airport has extended its 100,000-passenger-per-day limit for another six weeks as the aviation sector continues to struggle to meet growing travel demand amid staff shortages.

The capacity cap was initially meant to last through Sept. 11, but that date was pushed back Monday to Oct. 29, overlapping with the fall midterm break for most schools.

The UK’s busiest airport said the move was taken after the introduction of a time limit in July led to improved punctuality and fewer last-minute cancellations.

Central London was one of the worst hit by the severe disruption that blighted airports across the country in mid-May and early summer, with long security queues and baggage system failures.

Heathrow reported an adjusted pre-tax loss of £321m for the first half of the year in July after experiencing weeks of long queues and flight cancellations.

Hundreds of suitcases were filmed piling up at Heathrow in June after problems with the baggage system were reported and many people were forced to travel without their belongings and told they would not be retrieved for another two days.

Tens of thousands of flights have already been canceled this summer as the industry struggles to cope with a surge in demand to near pre-pandemic levels amid staffing shortages. The industry has also been accused of failing to anticipate recovery after two years of disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.

The consumer rights group Which? He said the move would leave the plans of thousands of passengers in limbo. Guy Hobbs, its travel editor, described the situation as a “disaster” and urged the airport to provide clarity to tourists about flight times.

“While the passenger limit extension may help Heathrow avoid a repeat of the unacceptable last-minute cancellations we saw earlier in the summer, thousands of people will now be anxious if their travel plans could be scuttled,” he said.

“Heathrow and the affected airlines must act without delay to provide travelers with clarity on which flights are being cut, and airlines must ensure that affected passengers are aware of their rights to rebooking or refunds.

“The aviation industry and government must ensure this mess is resolved as soon as possible: passenger limits cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.”

Heathrow said the cap imposed in July resulted in “fewer last minute cancellations” and “shorter waits for bags”.

It added that capacity limits would be kept under review and “could be lifted sooner if there was a sustained picture of improved resilience and a material increase in resource levels.”

Heathrow Chief Commercial Officer Ross Baker said: “Our main concern is to ensure we provide our passengers with a reliable service when they travel.

“That’s why we introduced temporary capacity limits in July that have already improved travel during the summer break.

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

Heathrow had said it had hired 1,300 people in the last six months and added it would return to pre-pandemic security staffing levels by the end of July.

The airport said it was still losing money and did not expect to pay any dividends to its shareholders for the rest of the year, but was offsetting higher costs with higher charges.

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