London's Heathrow Airport Asks Airlines to Stop Selling Summer Tickets — Here's Why

The new limit will be in effect from Tuesday through at least Sept. 11.

London's Heathrow Airport is asking airlines to cut back on flights this summer, introducing a capacity cap of no more than 100,000 passengers per day.

The airport, which has apologized for significant lines and baggage issues in recent weeks, said the drastic action was being taken to minimize further disruptions. The new limit will be in effect from Tuesday through at least Sept. 11, Heathrow's CEO John Holland-Kaye said in a statement.

Despite the new passenger cap, Holland-Kaye estimates airlines have already sold an excess of seats for the summer "and so we are asking our airline partners to stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers."

Passengers queue to check in at the departures hall of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport in London, UK, on Monday, June 13, 2022.
Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images

"By making this intervention now, our objective is to protect flights for the vast majority of passengers at Heathrow this summer and to give confidence that everyone who does travel through the airport will have a safe and reliable journey and arrive at their destination with their bags," Holland-Kaye said. "We recognize that this will mean some summer journeys will either be moved to another day, another airport or be cancelled and we apologize to those whose travel plans are affected."

The request comes as Heathrow has been slammed in recent weeks, with images circulating of piled-up, lost luggage and long waits, according to the BBC. British airlines — like airlines all over the world — have also been affected by mass cancellations.

For its part, Heathrow said it has seen 40 years of passenger growth in just four months, with daily passenger numbers "regularly" exceeding 100,000 people and nearly 6 million passengers traveling in the month of June alone. The airport said it expects to have as many people working in security as there were pre-pandemic by the end of July.

"The global aviation industry is recovering from the pandemic, but the legacy of COVID continues to pose challenges for the entire sector as it rebuilds capacity," Holland-Kaye said. "We held off putting additional controls on passenger numbers until… we had a clearer view of the reductions that airlines have made. Some airlines have taken significant action, but others have not, and we believe that further action is needed now to ensure passengers have a safe and reliable journey."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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