Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kay the day before published an open letter to airline passengers announcing that a capacity limit was being introduced at the UK capital airport.
In his open letter, John Holland-Kay noted: “The global aviation industry is recovering from the pandemic, but The legacy of COVID continues to create problems for everyone. At Heathrow, over the last four months, we've experienced the kind of growth in passenger traffic that usually happens in 40 years. Despite this, we managed to provide quality service to most of the passengers during the holidays.
We started recruiting back in November last year in anticipation of a recovery in volumes this summer — by the end of July we will have as many people working in security as we had before the pandemic. We have also reopened and moved 25 airlines to Terminal 4 to give passengers more space and streamline the cleaning process.
New employees learn quickly, but have not gained enough experience yet. However, there are problem areas at the airport where there are not enough people, in particular, check-in operators, baggage loading and unloading areas and aircraft maintenance. They do their best, but this is a significant limitation to the overall capacity of the airport.
In the past few weeks, the number of departures regularly exceeded 100,000 per day, and we began to see periods when service dropped to an unacceptable level: long queues, delays, baggage handling errors, poor punctuality, etc. Add to this delays at other airports, in European airspace and, as a result, late arrivals of dozens of flights, as well as an increase in the number of passengers, exceeding the combined capacity of airlines, ground services and the airport. It is in our interest to carry as many passengers as possible, but we cannot put them at risk for their own safety and well-being.
Some airlines have taken significant steps to streamline flights, but others have not. Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to impose a bandwidth cap from July 12th to September 11th. Similar measures have been taken to control the number of passengers at other airports, both in the UK and around the world.
According to our estimates, the maximum passenger flow that airlines, ground services and the airport can “digest” is no more than 100,000 people per day. The latest forecasts show that the number of daily departures during the summer will average 104,000, which is an excess of 4,000. So far, only about 1,500 of these 4,000 “extra” ones have actually been sold. tickets, so we are asking our airline partners to stop selling summer tickets to limit problems.
We recognize that some summer flights will either be rescheduled to another day, to another airport, or canceled, and we bring apologies to those whose travel plans will be disrupted.
The airport will continue to be busy and we ask you to be patient if check-in, security or baggage claim takes a little longer than you are used to at Heathrow. We ask passengers to help: fulfill all COVID-19 requirements online, do not arrive at the airport earlier than 3 hours before departure, prepare in advance for security control — remove laptops, aerosols, gels and other liquids from bags, use electronic gates.
We are recruiting as quickly as we can, and we strive to return to the quality of service that you expect from the main UK airport as soon as possible. .