British Airways (BA) has reportedly suspended selling short-haul flights from London’s Heathrow Airport for at least a week. Tens of thousands of flights have already been canceled this summer as the industry struggles to cope with the demand for air travel amid staffing shortages, reports DPA news agency.
The Times reported BA suspended ticket sales for domestic and European services until and including Monday to comply with Heathrow’s cap on passenger numbers, with the airport announcing last month that no more than 100,000 daily departing passengers are permitted until September 11.
The UK’s flag carrier had earlier responded to Heathrow’s cap on passenger numbers by announcing it would cancel 10,300 flights until October, with one million passengers affected. Many passengers flying to and from the UK’s busiest airport have suffered severe disruption in recent months, with long security queues and baggage system breakdowns.
The move to suspend ticket sales for BA short-haul flights from Heathrow will push up prices on rival firms, according to the Times. It comes after Emirates last month rejected Heathrow’s order to cancel flights to comply with the cap. The airline accused the airport of showing “blatant disregard for consumers” by attempting to force it to “deny seats to tens of thousands of travelers” through the cap.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said at the time it would be “disappointing” if “any airline would want to put profit ahead of a safe and reliable passenger journey”. Virgin Atlantic also criticised the airport’s actions and claimed it was responsible for failures that are contributing to the chaos.
Airlines on July 21 were accused of “harmful practices” in their treatment of passengers affected by the disruption. The Competition and Markets Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority issued a joint letter to carriers, expressing concern that “consumers could experience significant harm unless airlines meet their obligations”.
The letter stated: “We are concerned that some airlines may not be doing everything they could to avoid engaging in one or more harmful practices. “These include selling more tickets for flights “than they can reasonably expect to supply”, not always “fully satisfying obligations” to offer flights on alternative airlines to passengers affected by cancellations, and failing to give consumers “sufficiently clear and upfront information about their rights.”