British Airways halts some Heathrow sales
LONDON — British Airways said Tuesday that it’s suspending sales of short-haul flights from London’s Heathrow Airport, a response to the airport’s request to limit bookings to help ease travel disruptions caused by booming demand and staff shortages.
The suspension applies to new bookings for domestic U.K. and European destinations departing from Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport. British Airways said the move applies to short-haul flights only, generally defined as up to three hours, which would rule out cities such as Manchester, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and
The airline initially said the freeze would cover flights until Monday but later extended it for a week. Flights from Heathrow to U.K. and European cities were only available starting on Aug. 16, according to searches on the British Airways website. Passengers, however, can still book shorthaul flights to the airport.
The airline said it was taking action after Heathrow capped daily departing passenger numbers at 100,000 until Sept. 11. The airport asked airlines to stop selling tickets and cut flights, stirring criticism.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, meanwhile, said it is extending its daily passenger cap into October.
Passenger traffic at European airports has boomed after two years of pandemic travel restrictions, but airports and airlines haven’t been able to keep up because they laid off many thousands of staff amid the depths of COVID-19. Heathrow and Schiphol have been among the hardest hit.
The airline said in a statement that it was “dynamically managing the situation,” including halting sales on some dates so it didn’t exceed the cap.
Heathrow has been the frequent scene of travel mayhem this summer, with long lines for security and technical glitches with the baggage system that resulted in huge piles of lost and unclaimed luggage. The airport apologized last month to passengers whose travels were disrupted and said service levels had been unacceptable.