LONDON: Heathrow airport said on Monday it was extending its capacity limit through most of October to reduce the chaos caused by a post-pandemic surge in passengers amid a lack of staff.
Europe’s largest airport introduced a cap of 100,000 departing passengers per day in July, which was originally slated to have expired at the end of September.
“Since the cap was introduced, passenger journeys have improved with fewer last-minute cancelations, better punctuality and shorter wait times for bags,” said Heathrow.
It said the extension through Oct. 29 “will provide passengers with confidence ahead of their half-term getaways.”
Airlines scheduled thousands of flights in Europe this summer season to capture a boom in travel demand following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
But having cut back staff drastically during the pandemic, both airlines and airports found it difficult to hire enough employees.
This led to long waits to check-in, clear security and collect bags in many airports across Europe, as well as to cancelations of flights due to lack of crew.
The Heathrow cap was set at roughly 4,000 passengers per day fewer than scheduled flight capacity.
Airlines have canceled flights in response to the cap, as well as in recognition of their staffing levels.
Heathrow said it was regularly reviewing the situation and would remove the cap early if it sees an improvement.
“We want to remove the cap as soon as possible, but we can only do so when we are confident that everyone operating at the airport has the resources to deliver the service our passengers deserve,” Heathrow Chief Commercial Officer Ross Baker said.
Amsterdam and Frankfurt airports have also instituted caps.