August 2, 2022 By The Associated Press
LONDON — British Airways said Tuesday that it’s suspending sales of short-haul flights from London’s Heathrow Airport for about a week, a response to the airport’s request to limit bookings to help ease travel disruptions caused by booming demand and staff shortages.
Restrictions on ticket sales for domestic U.K. and European services departing from Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, are in place until Monday. Passengers, however, can still book short-haul flights to the airport.
The airline said it was taking action after Heathrow capped daily departing passenger numbers at 100,000 until Sept. 11. The airport asked airlines to stop selling tickets and cut flights, stirring criticism.
Passenger traffic at Heathrow and other European airports has boomed after two years of pandemic travel restrictions, but airports and airlines haven’t been able to keep up because they laid off many thousands of staff amid the depths of COVID-19.
“As a result of Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings, we’ve decided to take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services to help maximize rebooking options for existing customers, given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry,” British Airways said in a press statement.
Heathrow has been the frequent scene of travel mayhem this summer, with long lines for security and technical glitches with the baggage system that resulted in huge piles of lost and unclaimed luggage.
The airport apologized last month to passengers whose travels were disrupted and said service levels had been unacceptable.
British Airways had initially responded to Heathrow’s passenger cap by canceling 10,300 flights until October.