London’s Heathrow Airport has been pure chaos all summer. From flight delays and long lines to luggage piling up because of a tech glitch, the airport has been struggling to keep up with passenger demand. 

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40 years of growth in four months

There were six million passengers in June, which is equivalent to 40 years of growth in four months, says the airport. 25 million passengers have traveled through Heathrow in the first 6 months of 2022 compared to 19.4 million in all of 2021.

“We have already seen times recently when demand exceeds the capacity of the airport, airlines, and ground handler,” shares Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye.

Asking airlines to cancel more flights

If schedule reductions don’t help with the chaos, the airport will have to ask airlines to cancel more flights. The airport canceled more than 60 flights on Monday. About 10,000 passengers were affected.

“We will review the schedule changes that airlines have submitted in response to the government’s requirement to minimize disruption for passengers this summer and will ask them to take further action if necessary,” says Holland-Kaye.

British Airways, the biggest airline to fly from Heathrow as well as other carriers has canceled hundreds of flights already this summer. 

The airport has announced it will cap passengers at 100,000 a day until September 11th. Airlines have been asked to stop selling tickets for summer travel.

The blame game

Despite preparing since November in anticipation of summer 2022, some people in the aviation industry are blaming Heathrow for not being ready. 

“Heathrow definitely should have prepared better. They were arguing that airlines should be operating at least 80% of their slots through the summer period. They clearly did not provide sufficient resources to deal with that level of activity, so you would have to be critical of Heathrow,” says Willie Walsh, International Air Transport Association (IATA) boss.

The airport apologized to its passengers during a monthly traffic update saying, “We want to apologize to any passengers who have been affected by this.”

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