London's Heathrow Airport caps daily passenger limit. Here's why
With London's Heathrow Airport capping passenger numbers to 1,00,000 per day, the travel plans for many have gone awry. On Tuesday, Heathrow's CEO John Holland-Kaye said that as the departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded 1L per day, it was difficult for the ground staff to handle such high numbers. He also asked airlines to stop selling any more tickets till September 11.
Why does this story matter?
London's Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. It used to handle nearly 2,20,000 passengers each day, including arrivals and departure, in 2018. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it cut a sizeable number of jobs. This resulted in a staff crunch after normalcy returned and people resumed travel with the airport being heavily understaffed now.
Flight delays, long luggage queues trouble passengers
"Our assessment is that the maximum number of daily departing passengers that airlines, airline ground handlers, and the airport can collectively serve over the summer is no more than 1 lakh," Holland-Kaye said. The airport is unable to cope with the post-pandemic surge with a shortage of manpower. Passengers are facing a harrowing time with flight delays, long luggage queues, and lost baggage.
Airport under-resourced to handle passenger influx
The COVID-19 pandemic had thrown life out of gear all across the world in 2022. Airlines had cut jobs and now with the post-pandemic surge in travelers, "some critical functions in the airport which are still significantly under-resourced, in particular ground handlers, who are contracted by airlines to provide check-in staff, load and unload bags and turnaround aircraft," Holland-Kaye said.
Several India-Heathrow flights facing cancelation
Following Heathrow Airport's decision, Virgin Atlantic canceled its Delhi-London flight on Thursday. Other carriers could also pull out India-London flights from their summer schedule. There are 102 direct flights a week between India and Heathrow airport--British Airways (41), Virgin Atlantic (21), Air India (33), and Vistara (seven). Meanwhile, the British Airways said that the India-Heathrow flights are operating as usual at the moment.
Emirates Airlines slams Heathrow's passenger cap rule
Meanwhile, Emirates Airlines slammed Heathrow airport for its "incompetence" in failing to handle a surge in passengers, CNN reported. Emirates, which operates six daily flights from Heathrow, called the airport's passenger limit rules "entirely unreasonable and unacceptable." It also said that Heathrow had given it only 36 hours to comply with the new cap, failing which it threatened legal action against airlines.