Heathrow Airport Has Lifted The Passenger Cap – But It Could Return At Christmas

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London Heathrow Airport lifted its passenger cap yesterday (30th October), but has warned that a version of it could be re-imposed at Christmas.

British Airways A350 at London Heathrow on 29 July 2019
(Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

In order to avoid last-minute flight cancellations, the airport is developing the following policy for the peak Christmas dates:

“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.”

The controversial cap has been unpopular with airlines and they will be lobbying the airport to work more flexibly with them in future.

Although demand is roughly 25% down on pre-pandemic levels, the airport still needs to recruit more employees for the busy Christmas period – and for the longer term return to ‘normal’ capacity. In a bid to help ease staffing issues, the Government has pledged to speed up security checks for staff and to allow training to start before these checks have been completed.

Bottom line

Hopefully Heathrow can avoid another passenger cap, but it is worth bearing in mind that the travel industry in general is still going to struggle for a while during the busiest travel dates.

If you want to avoid the worst queues and minimise your chances of encountering travel disruption, consider whether you might be able to travel a little earlier/later over the festive period this year.

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