Heathrow Airport extends cap on passengers to end of October

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Heathrow is to extend a cap on the number of passengers flying from the airport until the end of October due to staff shortages.

It means the limit will now be in place until after the UK school half-term holidays.

After consulting with airlines, a daily limit of 100,000 departing passengers will now apply until 29 October, the airport said.

It said the measure would enable more reliable passenger journeys.

The UK’s largest airport said the cap would “provide passengers with confidence ahead of their half-term getaways”.

When the cap was first announced in July it was initially in place until 11 September.

The airport also said the cap would be kept under regular review and could be lifted early if staffing levels improved.

Heathrow chief commercial officer Ross Baker said: “Our primary concern is ensuring we give our passengers a reliable service when they travel.”

“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,” he added.

In response, a spokesman for airline Virgin Atlantic said: “We are disappointed that Heathrow Airport has already decided to extend the passenger capacity cap until the end of October, as additional resources come on line every week and the airport experience improves.

The airline said that its ground handlers, Cobalt Ground Solutions, which are responsible for services including ramp and baggage operations, currently have staff resourcing at 95% of 2019 levels.

“Airline customers have a right to expect their bookings will be honoured and we’re doing everything in our power to minimise disruption, getting our customers to where they need to be smoothly,” he added.

Tens of thousands of UK passengers have been affected by travel disruption throughout the summer.

During the pandemic the aviation industry cut thousands of jobs as international travel ground to a halt. But since then it has struggled to recruit and train new staff quickly enough.

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.

In June, 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.

Heathrow, along with other airports, has seen long queues for security and check-in over the summer

Meanwhile, the Unite union said it had secured a pay rise worth an average of 13% for around 16,000 British Airways staff.

The deal will see workers get a lump sum worth 5% of their wages in August, a consolidated 5% increase in September and a further 3% consolidated rise in December.

It came after some 700 BA workers at Heathrow – mostly check-in staff – called off strike action after agreeing a similar pay deal.

Staff had originally backed industrial action over a 10% pay cut imposed during the Covid pandemic.

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