British Airways (BA) has extended its ticket sale suspension for short-haul flights from Heathrow until 15 August.
“We took pre-emptive action to reduce our schedule this summer to give customers certainty about their travel plans and to build more resilience into our operation given the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry,” the airline said in a statement.
“We’ll continue to manage bookings to be within the Heathrow imposed cap so we can get our customers away as planned this summer.”
The move comes as late last night the legacy carrier announced it was halting the sale of tickets until 8 August to comply with Heathrow’s cap.
This will mean thousands of holidaymakers will not be able to get away as seats on planes are removed from sale, while prices are likely to shoot up as demand increases and supply narrows.
This comes as Britain’s biggest airport was forced to limit passengers to 100,000 a day, as staff shortages and soaring demand over the summer has led to hour-long queues.
Heathrow announced it was pleased with the airline’s move and said BA was “acting responsibly and also putting the passenger first.”
On the other hand, travel agent group Advantage lambasted the decision, calling it “a further blow to consumer confidence.”
“Whilst we understand that no airline wants to cancel flights at short notice, airlines who are making these last minute changes to schedules must urgently look to improve their communication to passengers,” said chief executive Julia Lo-Bue Said.
Lo Bue-Said’s words were echoed by Which?’s travel editor Guy Hobbs who said that following BA’s decision, people should consider booking as early as possible “to avoid last-minute disappointment and inflated rates.”
“Airports and airlines need to be held to account for the unacceptable disruption travellers are currently experiencing, and the government must act to ensure the Civil Aviation Authority has the power to hit operators with substantial fines in instances where they flout the rules,” he added.