Heathrow Airport has aimed a subtle dig at understaffed airlines after blaming its capacity cap on a lack of airline ground handlers. The airport has claimed that its capacity cap will remain in place until airlines can muster up more ground staff. We take a closer look below.
Heathrow blames airlines for its capacity cap
As Simple Flying reported earlier this month, London Heathrow Airport has imposed a cap on daily passengers in an attempt to mitigate the severe travel disruption seen in recent months.
In its half-year results released today, Heathrow Airport claimed that a shortage of airline ground handling staff led to the capacity cap, which has limited daily departing passengers to 100,000.
As Heathrow Airport explained,
“We started to see a worrying increase in unacceptable service levels for some passengers; an increase in delays to get planes on to stand, bags not traveling with passengers or being delivered very late to the baggage hall, low departure punctuality and some flights being canceled after passengers had boarded. This showed us that demand had started to exceed the capacity of airline ground handlers and we took swift action to protect consumers by applying a cap on departing passenger numbers, better aligned with their resources. “
Heathrow said that it has raised concerns about the lack of ground handlers for the past nine months and estimates that resources are only at around 70% of pre-pandemic levels.
The capacity cap will be in place until at least the end of October. Photo: Heathrow Airport
Well-prepared for recovery, airport claims
The airport claims it was well-prepared for the travel industry recovery after ramping up operations in November 2021 and encouraged airlines and their ground handlers to do the same. Heathrow added that it had hired around 1,300 additions in the past six months to prepare for the summer boom.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said,
“The summer getaway has started well at Heathrow, thanks to early planning and keeping demand in line with airline ground handler capacity. I’m proud of the hard work everyone at Heathrow is doing which has helped millions of people get away already, and will help millions more travel on their well-earned summer breaks in the weeks ahead. “
Cap extended until October
When Heathrow introduced the passenger cap on July 11th, it was intended to last for a couple of months until the summer travel rush died down. However, the airport has now extended the cap until October 29th, adding nearly seven weeks to the original September 11th date.
The cap will allow 1,000 daily flights between now and August 31st before a slight drop to 950 daily flights throughout September and October. Importantly, Heathrow has warned that “the cap will remain in place until airlines increase their ground handler resource. “
Heathrow continues losses
Heathrow Airport has made slight progress in terms of its financial losses but will remain loss-making over 2022. The airport slashed its adjusted losses before tax from £ 466m to £ 321m for the first six months of 2022 as passenger numbers return.
Baggage piled up at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 this month. Photo: Getty Images.
Revenues shot up to £ 1.28 billion ($ 1.54 billion) compared to £ 348 million ($ 418 million) last year, fueled by a 577% increase in passenger numbers. During this period, Heathrow Airport welcomed 26.1 million passengers, up from 3.9 million over the same six-month period in 2021.
Who do you think is most responsible for the capacity cap at Heathrow Airport? Let us know in the comments.