Heathrow Asks Airlines to Cut Back

Heathrow AirportWell, it seems like the airline industry is going to face another setback. This time, however, it is the airport that is asking the airlines to cut back. In fact, Heathrow has asked a number of airlines to halve the number of international passengers whom they will have arriving at UK airports on November 30. On this date, a number of border staff members will be joining the public sector strike over pensions. Thus, there will be fewer people to deal with incoming passengers from other countries. In order to avoid big lines, the airport is asking airlines to cut back for the good of passengers.

Some of the largest carriers at Heathrow, like Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, have already started offering alternative dates to passengers who were supposed to fly on November 30. Due to this strike, many airlines have started warning their passengers of some very bad disruptions. Some of the delays that people will be facing could last up to 12 hours. People who choose to fly on this date should be aware of that.

Normand Boivin, who is the chief operating officer for Heathrow, said that they will plan for a normal flight schedule. However, they are requesting carriers to reduce their load factors on each international flight that will be arriving into Heathrow on November 30. It would be great if airlines could reduce their load factor to 50 percent on this day. The airport knows that this will be hard on the airlines, but this strike is making things hard on everyone. Heathrow wishes there was another way to go about reducing international passengers, but there is none.

Mr. Boivin went on to say that the delays at immigration are likely to be very long. In fact, the lines could be so long that passengers will not be able to be safely accommodated within the terminal. Thus, these passengers will be forced to be held until they can be checked.

He did note that holding passengers on planes would quickly create gridlock at the airport. There will not be enough airport parking stands. Mass cancellations are likely to take place. Some people are likely to be diverted away from landing at certain UK airports.

Of course, it is important to note that Heathrow is not the only airport in the UK that is expecting problems. In fact, London’s second largest airport, Gatwick, has also asked airlines to rebook passengers. Just like Heathrow, Gatwick believes that reducing the amount of international passengers flying into the airport is the only way to keep lines short and avoid as many cancellations as possible.

Mr. Boivin finished up by saying that the UK Border Agency is currently expected to perform at less than 50 percent productivity. Not only that, but the UK Border Agency is not likely to come up with any kind of contingency plan to support normal operations.




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