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Heathrow passenger cap to be extended to 29th October

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Heathrow has announced this afternoon that the cap of 100,000 departing passengers per day will be extended until 29th October.

This will ‘support more reliable and resilient passenger journeys’.

Heathrow has said that if the airlines behave nicely and hire lots of new ground staff, it will consider letting them off their punishment and lift the cap earlier. (In PR speak: “Airline and wider airport partners could see the cap lifted earlier if improved resource levels are evident and the airport continues to see sustained operational improvements”).

Heathrow passenger cap to be extended to 29th October

It isn’t clear if this cap will require additional flight cancellations by airlines. When the original cap was brought in on 12th July, airlines had sold an average of 101,500 tickets per day for late July and August. Whilst there would have been some last minute bookings to add to that, the airlines were not massively exceeding the cap and additional cancellations were modest.

With the natural fall in passenger volumes as the schools return in early September, it is possible that – even without the cap being in place – airlines would be under the 100,000 cap regardless. My guess is that the days at most risk are the weekends of October half term.

It is possible, of course, that the cap backfires on Heathrow. As the airlines cannot now ramp up their operations before the Winter timetables start on 30th October, will some simply stop recruiting? They would, after all, save money by falling back on their existing ground staff during the quiet Winter period. It is possible that, next Easter, we still find that airlines do not have all of the staff they need.

Here is the statement put out by Heathrow:

“Following a consultation with airlines, Heathrow has confirmed it will extend the existing limits on the airport’s capacity through to 29 October, the end of the summer season. This will provide passengers with confidence ahead of their half-term getaways. 

In July, Heathrow introduced temporary capacity limits to improve passenger journeys over the summer getaway. By better balancing passenger demand with available resources, we are able to operate a safe airport ecosystem that prioritises passenger needs. Since then, the cap has resulted in fewer last-minute cancellations, better punctuality and shorter waits for bags. Several other airports, including Gatwick, Frankfurt and Schiphol have also put in place equivalent capacity limits as the entire aviation sector, both home and away, faces similar challenges. Schiphol has also extended its cap through to the end of October.

The capacity limits will be kept under regular review and could be lifted earlier should there be a sustained picture of better resilience and a material increase in resourcing levels, notably at some airline ground handlers which remains a core constraint on capacity at the airport. The airport is a complex ecosystem with many organisations needing to work closely together. We encourage our partners to be transparent in sharing data, particularly on recruitment of additional colleagues, so that we can build confidence in the removal of the capacity limits as quickly as possible.

To support efforts to build back resilience in the airport system, Heathrow launched a review of airline ground handling last week. As part of an overall review of the ecosystem, we will be working with airlines and ground handlers to understand how we can unlock more capacity in this critical part of the airport, enabling us to meet passenger demand in the months and years ahead.”

Comments (83)

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  • gordon says:

    Read this on BBC news app at 02:30 this morning, And thought I was dreaming, Nope it’s true….

  • Catalan says:

    “Amsterdam Schiphol to compensate passengers after summer delays”

    Are you listening Heathrow?

    • Gordon says:

      Also read that last week, That’s why I’m not venturing out of AMS on my tier point run in Oct.

    • Ruralite says:

      I don’t think it will apply to transit passengers though from the email I received last week, only those passengers who are flying direct from Schipol. I wouldn’t hope for too much, my OH flew back from Africa with KLM at the end of June & missed his Schipol connection to the UK because of the late arrival of the inbound flight from Schipol to Accra, due to check in/security & baggage delays KLM said. It took off 45 mins late from Accra but he could still have made his onward connection at that time, but it then got delayed more during the flight/waiting to land at Schipol due to all the problems causing a knock on effect. KLM are still refusing to reimburse the extra £65 it cost in waiting time for the car pick up at Manchester – he conveniently landed in Manchester 3 minutes outside the 3 hours eligibility for compensation which I appreciate is the cut off but, because of their lack of information combined with a time difference & a overnight flight there wasn’t much he could do by the time he arrived in Schipol as by then cancelling the pick up at short notice would have meant paying the full fare anyway with no guarantee of a rebook for later. He’s hoping they’ll give in &, if not cash, offer at least a voucher eventually.

      • Nick says:

        No airline offers compensation for consequential loss. This is what travel insurance is for.

        Heathrow and Gatwick car parks do tend to offer flexibility in these circumstances, it’s sad but not surprising if MAN doesn’t.

        • Ruralite says:

          I appreciate that it should be insurance, which obviously with excess deducted will hardly cover it. But, unusually, KLM did send an email apologising for the delay which they admitted was their fault & then asked if he would like to make a claim for loss (they included a claim link) which he did & they subsequently refused it. Their email may have been badly worded & they probably meant a claim under EU261, which wasn’t applicable by 3 mins, but that wasn’t what it said. Or they didn’t realise until he claimed that it was 3 mins under. However as a regular KLM flyer I think he will push it a bit more.

          • Chris K says:

            ‘landed’ 2hr 57 minutes late? When did the doors open?

          • Ruralite says:

            Chris K – that was to door opening (should have been clearer), double checked that!

      • Lady London says:

        @Ruralite Landed=aircraft finished taxiing, i parked, AND first door is fully open (usually front left side) AND the stairs or airbridge is fully connected ready for airceaft exit of passengers AND the way is free, open and permitted by cabin crew for the first passenger to leave the aircraft. For EU UK 261 that exact time, wgen the first passengee is able to leave the aircraft THAT is your time of landing.

        Ignore all those cabin announcements of “Welcome to x place / We have now landed at x. No you haven’t. Not until everything is set up and the first passenger is able to leave the aircraft.

        • Lady London says:

          So it’s not just the door opening there is often cabin crew or those silly braided ropes netween metal poles om little stands blocking the way while things are finished off and cabin crew and ground operatives exchange greetings and information, that block the first passenger from leaving.

  • JDB says:

    @Ruralite while it seems an odd omission from EC261, the airline has no legal obligation to pay for consequential losses like parking/taxes so any payment would be on a goodwill basis something airlines don’t seem full of at the moment. Otherwise it’s an insurance claim but probably not worth it if you have a standard excess.

  • NorthernLass says:

    Another seamless flight with EasyJet on Sunday, OPO-MAN. Departed on time, arrived 10 minutes early, and they were selling off their excellent cheese and ham sourdough toasties at half price because it was the end of the day! My days of BA short haul are well and truly over, I think, especially with the current shambles at LHR.

    • Rhys says:

      LHR is fine now! Have had no problems anywhere for my last few flights, either at security, immigration etc.

      • Andrew says:

        6 BA flights in the last 3 weeks, all had 15-30 min wait at the gate to deplane. One missed connection.

        The 2 flights where I’d checked a bag had a 30 & 55 min wait at the carousel for delivery. The latter missed the last HEX home necessitating a costly taxi.

        30 minute queue for T3 premium security last Wednesday afternoon due to lack of trained staff, goodness knows what regular security was like. No time for a proper bite to eat before the flight.

        The week before on a Tuesday evening a 35 minute wait at T5 North Fast Track (!) due to only one machine working. Very rushed schlep over to C gates. First Wing security closing at 6pm.

        Not my definition of fine..

        • Rhys says:

          Maybe you’re just unlucky 😉

          Seriously though, I haven’t had issues at Heathrow since they left my baggage back in April. Checked luggage came through very timely the other week, immigration totally empty etc

          • George K says:

            After 10 LHR flights over summer (both at T2 and T5) I have noticed a general slowness at security, even at fast track. Some were infuriatingly slow almost zombie-like movements, others plain jobsworths who were asking people in front of me to take their liquids out of their clear plastic bags and into Heathrow’s ones (…), and of course not all of the lanes were open at any of the times. I had to wait 30 minutes for my bag to get the secondary screening once as there were about 7 bags in front of me – and that was at ‘fast track’. When the guy got to my bag, he looked at the screen, then looked at the bag, and told me to just take it as he said ‘wasn’t sure why this was pulled over’.

            Had a few delays at baggage reclaim but thankfully nothing more than an hour (at T5). I can’t believe I have to be ‘thankful’ for that, but there you go.

            However, the most shambolic performance in my opinion was the fact that after landing at T2 from Canada, we were given a stand and assigned a grand total of ONE bus to ferry people from the stand to the terminal. Took 50 minutes to clear the plane – I know, as I was right at the back…

            So yes, LHR can be ‘fine’, but there are a lot of times that it’s not.

      • planeconcorde says:

        At the end of July I had a 1hr 40min wait for hold baggage delivery from a short haul BA flight. That isn’t fine as far as I am concerned.

        • Notmyrealname says:

          You don’t live in the sponsored freebie world that Rhys and Rob do 🙂

          • Rob says:

            We’re not checked baggage sort of people!

          • Lady London says:

            getting tired of these insinuations notmyrealname. The team has sometimes appeared to make decisions that have prompted questions but have responded generally more disclosure than anyonw is entitled to as transparency is one of the key differentiators of the site. Could you give it a rest please? At least until the next time they do something that could make a reasonable travel afficionado wonder.

          • JohnG says:

            Based on your odd obsession it seems clear they are living inside your head rent free.

        • Rhys says:

          I’ve had my baggage left at Heathrow!

    • Catalan says:

      Such class. An airline selling stale sandwiches at half price!

      • Andrew says:

        What made you think they were stale? Wastefulness isn’t classy.

        • Catalan says:

          Stale means not fresh. After a full flying day those sandwiches won’t be fresh. It would be classier if they’d have handed them out as a ‘goodwill’ gesture rather than acting like a market stall in the sky.

          • Brian78 says:

            They’re a business. Also, easyJet are meant to be cheap not classy.

          • NorthernLass says:

            Err – a toastie is an item which is heated prior to being served, hence staleness isn’t really an issue. I like them very much, which is the only thing that matters! I can afford to go on holiday in August (with gritted teeth), so I’m not going to moan about paying £2.25 for a substantial and tasty snack.

      • Numpty says:

        My old flatmate used to be a supervisor in Starbucks, they weren’t allowed to reduce the food, or give it away – it was supposed to be binned, which was outrageous. Fortunately she and the other staff took the food home every night (and giving some to any homeless encountered on way home). We had a fridge shelf permanently stocked with free bakery and cakes, happy days.

        • Charles Martel says:

          Starbucks seem to participate in Too Good To Go if you want a party bag of nearly stale cakes or pastries for a few quid.

        • Tim says:

          No wonder the cakes were stale. You are not supposed to store them in the fridge

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    On the radio – Ryanair to operate 100s of extra half-term flights!

    Now, where do they and their airports get the extra staff?

  • Michael C says:

    Friends flying from Malaga to London with Ryanair in Nov. have just had their flights cancelled and refunded immediately due to “planned strikes”.

    • Andrew says:

      Immediate refund like that is illegal, they can purchase flights and pursue Ryanair for the cost.

  • captaindave says:

    Flying from MAN – BKK via Schipol in early October – is it still likely to be a $hit $how by then ? will be checking in luggage…

    • Rob says:

      Schools are back so hopefully not as bad as it could be ……

    • Mike Hunt says:

      Capt Dave – pop an Apple air tag in to rack item of luggage, it does help keep track of where it is – making it much easier to track down, rather than relying on the air line / air port agent etc.

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