London Heathrow is one of the airports in Europe that has limited the number of passengers the airlines have allowed transporting to/from/through the airport by instituting caps.
These passenger caps are gone at the end of the month, but Heathrow airport is already warning that they may have to be reinstated around Christmas.
We are removing the cap from 30 October – We are working with airlines to agree a highly targeted mechanism that, if needed, would align supply and demand on a small number of peak days in the lead up to Christmas. This would encourage demand into less busy periods, protecting the heavier peaks, and avoiding flight cancellations due to resource pressures.
Christmas is less than two months away, and airlines may have to cut capacity or transport fewer passengers so the airport infrastructure won’t collapse again.
2019 Demand won’t be reached for years:
While demand is stronger, it is not fully recovered – We forecast that total passenger numbers for 2022 will reach between 60 – 62 million, approximately 25% fewer than 2019. Headwinds of a global economic crisis, war in Ukraine and the impact of COVID-19 mean we are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic demand for a number of years, except at peak times.
A recession is looming, and the UK is in a terrible position right now (haven’t we all seen the recent chaos). So companies and individual travelers are the first to cut travel expenses.
Not enough employees:
Our priority is to build back the airport eco-system to meet demand at peak times – To do so, businesses across the airport need to recruit and train up to 25,000 security cleared people – a huge logistical challenge. We are supporting, including establishing a recruitment taskforce to help fill vacancies, working closely with the Government on a review of airline ground handling and appointing a senior operational executive to invest in joint working.
Heathrow and the airlines were unprepared and didn’t keep enough employees on the payroll. So now they are in a situation where they cannot find enough employees willing to work at the low wages they offer.
I flew through Heathrow once this past summer to Mykonos (overnight); luckily, it was a smooth experience.
My travels will take me to Heathrow at least three times in the next two months, and I hope there are no disruptions.
The eligibility to use the first wing at Terminal 5 does help, but then Finnair uses Terminal 3, which could be an issue on one of the flights.
Heathrow and airlines should have these caps in place now to be 100% sure of the operation schedule around the year-end holidays, which is essential for passengers and airlines.
Nobody wants to see another operational meltdown with flights canceled at the last minute and bags left behind.