Emirates has criticized Heathrow Airport’s order to reduce passenger numbers on summer flights

Emirates has criticized Heathrow Airport’s order to reduce passenger numbers on summer flights

Heathrow Airport has introduced a passenger cap for the summer in the northern hemisphere as the aviation sector struggles to meet travel demand. Photo / AP

Middle East carrier Emirates has dismissed a call from London’s Heathrow Airport for airlines to reduce passenger numbers on Northern Hemisphere summer flights to reduce travel disruption, calling it a “completely unreasonable and unacceptable” move “Apparent disregard” shows customers”.

In a scathing statement, the airline accused Heathrow management of “incompetence” in not being ready to cope with the “super peak time” for travel. The airport says it has been seeking help from airlines for months for solutions.

Emirates, one of the world’s biggest airlines, fired back a day after Heathrow announced it would limit daily passenger numbers to 100,000 and halt airline ticket sales in a bid to quell travel chaos caused by rising travel demand and staff shortages became.

Airlines have already canceled thousands of flights from their summer schedules after UK aviation authorities, in a bid to thwart last-minute cancellations, said airlines would not be penalized for not using valuable take-off and landing space.

Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, said the cuts weren’t enough, but Emirates drew a line, revealing tensions between the airport and the airlines that are its customers.

The problems have cropped up across Europe. Booming demand for summer travel after two years of Covid-19 travel restrictions has swamped airlines and airports, which are understaffed after many pilots, cabin crew, check-in staff and baggage handlers were laid off. As a result, travelers face last-minute cancellations, long delays, lost luggage, or long waits for their luggage.

Emirates, which operates six daily round-trip flights between Heathrow and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, said it was “very regrettable” that the airport gave it 36 ​​hours on Wednesday evening to accommodate capacity cuts “of a number emerging from the Nothing seems to be torn to follow”.

“Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should evict paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance,” the airline said.

Other airlines also scolded. British Airways, which has the largest presence at Heathrow and has already cut 11 per cent of its scheduled flights by October, said the restrictions were “incredibly disappointing” and would cancel “a small number of additional flights”.

Travelers queue at security at Heathrow Airport in London.  With the ongoing workforce crisis in the industry, people are facing travel disruptions and long queues at airports.  Photo / AP
Travelers queue at security at Heathrow Airport in London. With the ongoing workforce crisis in the industry, people are facing travel disruptions and long queues at airports. Photo / AP

Heathrow blames a shortage of ground staff, hired by airlines to check in passengers, load and unload luggage and prepare planes for their next journey.

However, Emirates said its ground handling and catering services are owned by its parent company and are “fully willing and able to handle our flights”. Instead, the “central services and systems” of the airport are to blame.

The airline accused Heathrow management of being “cautious” towards travelers and airlines, with signs of a strong travel recovery seen for months. Emirates said it was preparing, including rehiring and training 1,000 pilots last year, but Heathrow had not acted, planned or invested.

“Now that they are faced with an ‘airmageddon’ situation due to their incompetence and inaction, they are shifting the entire burden – of the cost and the hassle of sorting the mess – onto the airlines and travelers,” the statement said .

In response, Heathrow said it had been asking airlines for months to help devise a plan to solve their staffing challenges, “but there were no clear plans and with each passing day the problem was getting worse”.

“We had no choice but to make the difficult decision to set a capacity cap to provide passengers with a better, more reliable journey and to ensure the safety of everyone working at the airport,” Heathrow said. “It would be disappointing if, instead of working together, an airline would prioritize profit over safe and reliable passenger travel.”

A rebooking of so many potentially affected passengers is impossible because all flights are fully booked for the next few weeks, including at other London airports and with other airlines, Emirates said. A short-term relocation of some operations to other British airports is also unrealistic, it said.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s Lufthansa announced this week that it is canceling 2,000 more flights at Frankfurt and Munich, mainly during peak afternoon and evening periods next week, in addition to the 770 flights canceled from July 8-14 .

Further planned flight cancellations in August are “possible at a later date,” the airline said.

London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol airports also have limited daily flights or passenger numbers.

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