British Airways has suspended sales of short-haul flights from London’s busiest airport in a bid to avoid last-minute travel chaos for holidaymakers.
All ticket sales on the airline’s short-haul flights, which includes domestic and European routes have been suspended up to and including 8 August to comply with Heathrow’s cap on passenger numbers.
Heathrow announced last month that no more than 100,000 daily departing passengers will be permitted until 11 September.
Tens of thousands of flights have already been canceled this summer as the industry struggles to cope with the demand for air travel amid staff shortages.
A spokesperson for BA said: “As a result of Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings we’ve decided to take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services to help maximise rebooking options for existing customers, given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry. ”
It comes amid a season of travel chaos, with about 10,000 flights slashed in July at Heathrow, disrupting the plans of thousands of travelers.
The airport has been struggling to deal with staff shortages and the associated disruption, with passengers reporting long queues and disarray throughout June and July.
In late June, those traveling through Heathrow reported lines stretching over 2 hours long, with passenger Jamie Bowden reporting the queues were “horrific”.
There were also reports of lost luggage, and large piles of unattended bags and suitcases piling up.
What flights are affected?
The move by BA will see all ticket sales on the airline’s domestic and European routes suspended up to and including Monday.
Travel experts believe passenger caps may see ticket sales restricted for the rest of the summer due to the demand for last-minute holidays.
Editor of frequent-flyer website Head for Points, Rob Burgess, told The Times that passengers who need to travel from Heathrow on a British Airways service and who hasn’t booked a ticket yet should consider booking as soon as possible, in case booking is closed for additional dates.
The Times also reported that prices on rival carriers could be pushed up as a result of the BA suspension and the surging demand for tickets.
Many passengers flying to and from the UK’s busiest airport have suffered severe disruption in recent months, with long security queues and baggage system breakdowns.
Issues with staffing at UK airports have been blamed on a combination of redundancies made during the pandemic and brexit-related shortages.
On 21 July airlines were accused of “harmful practices” in their treatment of passengers affected by disruption.
Why have sales been suspended?
Heathrow airport announced last month that no more than 100,000 daily departing passengers will be permitted until 11 September, following the severe disruption amid staff shortages and surging demand for air travel.
BA had already responded to the cap on passenger numbers by announcing it would cancel 10,300 flights until October, with one million passengers affected.
It comes after the Competition and Markets Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority issued a joint letter to airlines expressing concern that “consumers could experience significant harm unless airlines meet their obligations”.
The letter states: “We are concerned that some airlines may not be doing everything they could to avoid engaging in one or more harmful practices.”
These include selling more tickets for flights “than they can reasonably expect to supply”, not always “fully satisfying obligations” to offer flights on alternative airlines to passengers affected by cancellations, and failing to give consumers “sufficiently clear and upfront information about their rights “.