HEATHROW airport has asked airlines to reduce the number of peak-time passengers at the airport by a third to alleviate “dangerous levels of congestion” at various choke-points across the airport.
The move comes amid unprecedented levels of chaos to Britain’s airports, with dozens of flights cancelled in recent days due to staff shortages and logistical difficulties.
Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, has asked airlines to keep passengers at two-thirds of the airport’s capacity. The hub said this did not mean passengers currently booked would need to be ‘cut’ from services, as it had already asked airlines to restrict sales.
There is an ongoing blame game between ministers and the industry, with airlines and airports blaming a lack of government support during the pandemic for staff shortages today, due to the number of layoffs they were forced to undertake during travel restrictions.
Yesterday transport secretary Grant Shapps however said that airlines had “cut too far” during the worst of the crisis.
Shapps indicated he was against proposals for a temporary relaxation on visa restrictions to allow foreign staff into the UK to fill recruitment gaps.
“The answer can’t always be to reach for the lever marked, ‘More immigration’,” he told the BBC yesterday.
“In fact, in Europe they have got exactly the same problems. If you look at the problems they are having in Amsterdam this weekend, there are problems across Europe.
Shapps also took aim at airlines for overselling flights – a regular practice in the industry which has been used for years to maximise revenues.
“Now we need the industry itself to deliver. It is very important that flights aren’t oversold, for example, and I want to make sure there is automatic compensation for passengers.
“We’ll work with the industry very hard between now and the summer to make sure we don’t see a repeat of those scenes.”
Easyjet cut a further 80 flights yesterday “due to the ongoing challenging operating environment.”