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Britain's Heathrow Airport to stop selling summer tickets

Travelers arrive at the Heathrow airport in London, Britain. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
Travelers arrive at the Heathrow airport in London, Britain. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

July 12 (UPI) -- Britain's Heathrow Airport has asked airlines to stop selling summer tickets and imposed a limit on daily passengers in an effort to improve service.

In the past few weeks, passenger numbers have regularly exceeded 100,000, leading to "periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable," Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye told Sky News.

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The chief executive added that the airport has been "significantly under-resourced," especially in check-in staff and workers who load and unload bags for the aircraft.

Holland-Kaye also said said that security staff is expected to rise to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels by the end of the month, but it will take some time to prepare new recruits.

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To deal with these issues, it has imposed a new 100,000 daily passenger cap, starting on Tuesday and going through Sept. 11, the airport said.

The airport added that the capacity cap is "in line with limits implemented at other airports."

Without the cap, Heathrow airport forecast that it would average 104,000 daily passengers, amounting to an excess of 4,000 more than it could handle.

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"On average only about 1,500 of these 4,000 daily seats have currently been sold to passengers, and so we are asking our airline partners to stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers," Holland-Kaye added. "We recognize that this will mean some summer journeys will either be moved to another day, another airport or be canceled and we apologize to those whose travel plans are affected."

About 93,000 passengers will likely be affected by the cap, according to estimates.

Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association and a former head of British Airways owner IAG, criticized the airport, saying it had underestimated the speed of recovery from the pandemic and its focus on profit came at airlines' expense.

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