Airports poised to limit summer bookings after chaos over flights

·2-min read
Heathrow says it is working with airlines to deal with expanded passenger numbers   (PA)
Heathrow says it is working with airlines to deal with expanded passenger numbers (PA)

Heathrow is poised to slash customer bookings by up to a third as it attempts to take decisive action over recent â€¨overcrowding and flight cancellations due to staff shortages — and other UK airports are set to follow suit.

The cutbacks on flights and bookings could hit share prices at carriers using UK airports as they negotiate with the hubs to try to wrest control of the passenger problem. There has been a rush to book holidays following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Shares in most major airlines held steady on opening of trading this morning, but in the past month easyJet shares have tumbled by up to 10% with TUI down 22%, Wizz Air down 11%, Jet2 down 9% and IAG shares down 15%.

A spokesperson for London Heathrow, said: “Passenger numbers are higher now than at any time since the start of the pandemic — and growing.

“There is a natural limit to what airlines can safely accommodate during their check-in process given the extended times they are taking to verify each passenger’s paperwork complies with destination requirements. As a precautionary step we worked with airlines to determine available capacity for check-in at various points throughout the day. “

The airport is reported to be attempting to restrict the number of passengers passing through Terminal 5, the largest of only four terminals at Heathrow, by as many as 1,200 passengers per hour between the hours of 5am and 6pm as of the beginning of July.

Thousands of British travellers were stranded at the weekend at airports across Europe after 200 flights were cancelled across carriers due to staff shortages including baggage handlers. EasyJet alone cancelled 80 flights across its routes over the Platinum Jubilee weekend.

An easyJet spokesman said the airline was “very sorry” and fully understood the disruption that was being caused to customers.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said at the weekend that change was needed from airports and airlines to ensure “proper disputes resolution” for passengers offering “quick and straightforward compensation” or an alternative flight.

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said the industry needed to “sit down with ministers to consider the art of the possible in terms of practical measures that can make a difference — in particular on recruitment — as we enter the summer period.”

A problem with the overhead power supply for the Eurostar outside Paris also led to major delays and cancellations on all its services.

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