Emirates Airlines has agreed to limit sales of its flights from Heathrow until mid-August after the airport asked carriers to reduce capacity.
The Dubai-based airline had rejected the airport’s request to cut flight capacity in the short run. The owners of the companies held talks Friday morning about ways to avoid the chaos of travel in the coming months.
Rising demand for travel post-pandemic has seen airports struggle to cope, leading to delays and cancellations. Emirates and Heathrow said in a joint statement that they had agreed.
“Emirates agreed the airline was ready and willing to work with the airport to remediate the situation over the next two weeks, to keep demand and capacity in balance and provide passengers with a smooth and reliable journey through Heathrow this summer,” said Emirates Airlines President Sir Tim Clark and Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye.
He said the move would help Heathrow “resource ramp-up”.
The companies said: “Meanwhile, Emirates flights from Heathrow operate as scheduled, and passengers with tickets can travel as booked.”
Emirates initially rejected Heathrow’s plea for the airline to cut capacity at short notice, with the carrier saying the airport’s demand was “unreasonable and unacceptable”.
The airline accused the airport of “gross disregard” for customers after limiting the number of passengers to 100,000 per day during the summer, saying the airport was considered “an ‘Armageddon’ due to their inefficiency and non-action”. ‘ situation encountered.
Another UAE-based airline, Etihad, told Reuters news agency on Friday it would operate its five return daily Abu Dhabi-Heathrow flights at total capacity by the end of the month, despite Heathrow’s request.
Etihad said it is “waiting for more information on the airport’s long-term plans for August”.
Heathrow said it had no choice but to introduce a cap on departing passengers, which would remain in effect until September 11. Earlier this week, it was forced to make cuts after not reaching an agreement with airlines despite months of consultations.
British Airways said Heathrow’s demand was “incredibly disappointing” for customers and came after it had already reduced its summer schedule.
BA is cutting an extra six flights a day in response to the move and says it has emailed some customers travelling on or before 25 July asking if they would like to change their flight or receive a voucher if they want to cancel.
Airports and airlines, which cut jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, have struggled to recruit staff as demand for international travel has returned.
Heathrow said it had “tried to be as supportive as possible to airlines”, saying its cap on passengers was higher than the 64,000 limits at Schiphol in Amsterdam.