Heathrow Airportis apparently considering slashing flight numbers this Christmas to avoid chaos at peak times.
The West London airport is in discussions about new passenger caps with airlines for the busiest days this December to avoid nightmare queues and cancellations as seen earlier this summer.
While Heathrow has not said which days may be affected, December 18, 19 and 20 are historically the busiest for departures, and December 27 and 28 for arrivals, reports the Mirror.
It has not been confirmed that the airport will implement any caps this winter at the current time.
The summer and autumn flight cap brought in by Heathrow in July is due to end later this month.
It capped the airport – and subsequently airlines – at 100,000 passengers per day.
“We are removing the cap that was in place over the summer and discussing with airlines a number of more targeted options to proactively manage peak demand days over winter if needed," a spokesperson for the airport told Daily Star.
"Heathrow’s priority is to ensure passengers get a great service, and we are encouraging airlines to engage with us on developing an approach to achieve this."
Heathrow brought in the cap to calm chaos at the airport as demand spiked following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, with numbers of staff whittled down since the start of 2020 seemingly unable to cope.
The summer and autumn cap limited seats to 100,000 a day in and out of the airport, meaning a reduction of around 4,000 daily.
Airlines were asked to stop selling tickets on certain days and some flights had to be grounded.
While Heathrow is expecting parts of the winter schedule to be the busiest period since the start of the pandemic, it has also issued a warning about a possible general slowdown.
Any drop in demand would be a new blow to the aviation industry, stalling its recovery from the pandemic just as it had taken root over the last six months.
During September, Heathrow said 5.8 million passengers passed through the airport, 15% below levels seen in 2019.
"While we face many economic headwinds, as well as the legacy of Covid, our aim is to get back to full capacity," Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said in a statement.
To add to the issues, airport workers represented by Unite are being balloted for industrial action from today.
If they vote to go on strike, then the airport could be plunged into chaos from mid-November.
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