London’s Heathrow airport has extended its regulatory cap of 100,000 daily passengers until October, to make it easier for its ground staff to cope with the mad rush of summer travellers.
The airport, one of the busiest in Europe, which faces a staff deficit has done this to be able to tackle the massive surge in air travel. In July, Heathrow had imposed an interim cut off and also told airlines to stop selling tickets during this summer, which is the most frenetic. The airlines were told that airport ground staff will not be able to handle the rush.
Already, many flights into Heathrow and out of the airport have been cancelled. Passengers have had to deal with long security lines, missing and misplaced luggage and flight delays.
Limiting the number of passengers had worked for the airport. It had fewer last-minute cancellations and the waits for bags were shorter because of the temporary cap. It was expected that the airport will raise the limit in September, said media reports.
Also read: Travelling to Europe? Many flights are getting cancelled
Staff crunch and capacity limits
Further, a media report in a business daily quoted Heathrow airport as saying its capacity limits would be reviewed and that the cap may be lifted earlier. This will happen if their staff crunch improves and the staff is able to cope in a sustained fashion.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry had to lay off tens of thousands of pilots, cabin crew, check-in workers, ground crew, and baggage handlers. Now, airports in Europe are struggling to cope with mad summer rush. I
In fact, the latest travel advice from Heathrow Airport is for travellers to arrive at least three hours before flights to Europe and the US. “If you’re travelling soon, it’s best to arrive at the airport three hours before both for a European and long haul flight, to allow sufficient time for the additional checks required to travel,” said the airport via its official Twitter account.
Also read: Travelling to Europe? It’s all chaos, and you must keep things in mind
Heathrow Airports CEO’s statement
On July 12, Heathrow Airports CEO John Holland-Kaye had said in a statement that over the past few weeks, as departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded one lakh per day, the airport has started to see periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable: long queue times, delays for passengers requiring assistance, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late, low punctuality and last-minute cancellations.
“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,” he added.