In 2020 we ran out of toilet paper and pasta. In 2021, it was semiconductor chips and migrants to pick our fruit. Now, in 2022, we’ve run out of short haul British Airways flights.
The national carrier won’t sell any new tickets from Heathrow until mid-August as a result of the airports decision to cap the number of passengers at 100,000.
It could extend into the bank holiday weekend or longer.
Only last week, leading voices in business and politics were busy waxing lyrical on the 10 year anniversary of the London Olympics, extolling the virtues of sporting events to bring tourism dollars into the capital.
Imagine if they were being hosted next week: the stadium would have been a shadow of itself with ticket-holders still stuck on the tarmac.
According to London & Partners, if we play our cards right we could have 40 million visitors a year, injecting £22bn into the city’s economy by 2025.
But they won’t be doing that at this rate, with ticket prices spiralling and other airports in the country likely to be even more rammed as a result of Heathrow’s failure to prepare for an upswing in travel.
The fault of the travel crisis cannot be easily apportioned.
The airports and the airlines must both shoulder their share of the blame.
It would be only extreme naivety to not see BA’s decision as a toss of the dice in a negotiation with Heathrow to scrap – or at least hike – the passenger cap.
John Holland-Kaye, the Heathrow chief executive, has blamed airlines.
Airline execs such as Ryanair’s chief financial officer have thrown it back at the airports.
Doling out blame will serve us only as far as it elucidates the problem and the problem is one of people: we do not have enough staff to ensure easy travel.
Instead of waging a war of words, we ought to launch a campaign to hire until all stations are manned, flights are taking off and bags aren’t being lost somewhere out near Hounslow.