Airport chaos

Heathrow tells airlines to stop selling tickets

Luggage has piled up at the airport

Heathrow Airport has asked airlines to stop selling any more tickets for the remainder of the summer as it is struggling to cope with demand for travel.

It has announced a limit of 100,000 passengers allowed to fly until 11 September to avoid further chaos, including long queues, missing luggage and last minute cancellations.

Its call echoes similar messages issued by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last month.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Over the past few weeks, as departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded 100,000 a day, we have started to see periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable.

“This is due to a combination of reduced arrivals punctuality – as a result of delays at other airports and in European airspace – and increased passenger numbers starting to exceed the combined capacity of airlines, airline ground handlers and the airport.

“Our colleagues are going above and beyond to get as many passengers away as possible, but we cannot put them at risk for their own safety and wellbeing.” 

A number of airlines have been working with Heathrow to manage the number of flights. But Mr Holland-Kaye said its latest forecast showed an excess number of seats had already been sold and therefore airlines needed to stop selling tickets now.

“Daily departing seats over the summer will average 104,000 – giving a daily excess of 4,000 seats” he said. “On average only about 1,500 of these 4,000 daily seats have currently been sold to passengers, and so we are asking our airline partners to stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers.”

Lufthansa has already cancelled thousands of departures from Frankfurt and Munich for the summer season and said it might make further adjustments to its schedule “for traffic peaks in August.”

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