Heathrow chaos: 61 flights axed in one day as airport can’t cope with passengers

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Long queues, lost baggage and axed departures ruined people’s plans amid a surge in staff shortages.

Airlines were asked not to rebook affected travellers on alternative flights departing from Britain’s busiest airport. A spokeswoman said: “We are expecting higher passenger numbers in Terminals 3 and 5 than the airport currently has capacity to serve, and so to maintain a safe operation we have asked some airlines to remove a total of 61 flights.

“We apologise for the impact.

“Airspace constraints across Europe and a lack of airline ground-handling staff can pose a risk to the smooth running of operations. We will take action to ensure passengers receive the service they deserve.”

Passengers are not entitled to compensation from airlines as the reason for the cancellation is classified as being outside of their control.

Heathrow earlier warned it will ask carriers to cut even more flights if it does not believe their actions will reduce disruption.

The punctuality of arriving flights is “very low” and problems include “long queue times, delays for passengers with reduced mobility (and) bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late”, according to Heathrow.

But chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “I am very proud of the way that our team is rising to the challenge of growth, and giving excellent service to the vast majority.”

The number of people who travelled through Heathrow during the first half of the year was 26 million –more than six times higher than the same period in 2021.

Jo Rhodes, Which? travel expert, said: “The airport knew how many passengers were due to fly today, so there is absolutely no excuse for it to be ordering on-the-day cancellations.”

Tory MP Huw Merriman, who chairs the Commons transport select committee, slammed the Govern-ment’s response to a report which made recommendations on combating summer disruption.

No update was given on when progress will be made.

He said: “This response is poor on consumer rights, refunds and preparation for future health crises.”

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