Emirates refuses London Heathrow request to reduce flights
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UAE-UK Travel: Emirates refuses London Heathrow request to reduce flights

UAE-UK Travel: Emirates refuses London Heathrow request to reduce flights

Emirates plans to operate services as scheduled to and from London Heathrow until further notice

Neesha Salian
Emirates rejects LHR request to cut capacity

UAE’s Emirates Airline has rejected London Heathrow Airport’s (LHR) request to airlines to stop selling tickets for summer departures after the airport announced on July 12 that it had capped the number of passengers flying from the hub at 100,000 a day in a bid to avoid long queues, baggage delays and cancellations.

London Heathrow attributed staffing shortages as the primary factor impacting the airport’s overall capacity. Last month, London’s Gatwick airport also announced it would restrict airlines to 825 flights a day in July and 850 a day in August, from a pre-pandemic peak of around 950 services to cope with the staffing crisis.

In an open letter to passengers, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye, said that LHR had “made the difficult decision to introduce a capacity cap with effect from  July 12 to September 11″.

Holland-Kay added: “Our assessment is that the maximum number of daily departing passengers that airlines, airline ground handlers and the airport can collectively serve over the summer is no more than 100,000. The latest forecasts indicate that even despite the amnesty, daily departing seats over the summer will average 104,000 – giving a daily excess of 4,000 seats. On average only about 1,500 of these 4,000 daily seats have currently been sold to passengers, and so we are asking our airline partners to stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers.”

Emirates in its official statement addressing the matter stated that LHR “gave us 36 hours to comply with capacity cuts, of a figure that appears to be plucked from thin air. Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance. This is entirely unreasonable and unacceptable, and we reject these demands”.

The airline added that its ground handling and catering, which is managed by dnata at LHR is “fully ready and capable of handling our flights. So the crux of the issue lies with the central services and systems which are the responsibility of the airport operator”.

Emirates said that considering the regular high seat loads over the past 10 months, the operational requirements should have been expected by LHR.

The airline said LHR had demonstrated “blatant disregard for consumers”, by forcing it “to deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers who have paid for, and booked months ahead, their long-awaited package holidays or trips to see their loved ones. And this, during the super peak period with the upcoming UK holidays, and at a time when many people are desperate to travel after two years of pandemic restrictions”.

Emirates emphasised that re-booking the sheer numbers of potentially impacted passengers was impossible with all flights running full for the next weeks, including at other London airports and on other airlines. “Adding to the complexity, 70 per cent of our customers from LHR are headed beyond Dubai to see loved ones in far-flung destinations, and it will be impossible to find them new onward connections at short notice. Moving some of our passenger operations to other UK airports at such short notice is also not realistic. Ensuring ground readiness to handle and turnaround a widebody long-haul aircraft with 500 passengers onboard is not as simple as finding a parking spot at a mall,” said the airline.

Emirates said: “LHR chose not to act, not to plan, not to invest. Now faced with an “airmageddon” situation due to their incompetence and non-action, they are pushing the entire burden – of costs and the scramble to sort the mess – to airlines and travellers.”

The airline also welcomed the action taken by the UK Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to seek information from LHR on their response plans, systems resilience, and clarify the “seemingly arbitrary” cap of 100,000 daily passengers.

Emirates has said it plans to operate as scheduled to and from LHR until further notice.

In other news, Etihad Airways rescheduled flight EY26 from London to Abu Dhabi on Thursday, July 14 due to LHR’s new cap limit.

In a recent development, Emirates and Air Canada have signed a strategic partnership agreement, aiming to establish a codeshare alliance later this year.

Read: Emirates, Air Canada sign strategic agreement to set up codeshare partnership

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