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Heathrow Airport lifting temporary passenger cap

FILE – Travellers at Heathrow airport, in London, July 13, 2022. London’s Heathrow Airport says on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022 it will extend its cap on daily passenger numbers until the end of October as part of its efforts to cope with soaring demand for air travel amid staffing shortages. The airport, one of Europe’s busiest, said a maximum of 100,000 travelers can depart each day until Oct. 29. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, file)

London’s Heathrow Airport is lifting a temporary cap on passenger numbers that was instated over the summer to account for staff shortages and high demand. 

The cap, which sets a limit for 100,000 departing passengers at Heathrow per day, had been set to expire in September but was extended into October. The airport announced Monday that the cap will end on Oct. 29, Heathrow confirmed to The Hill. 

“Our focus has always been on removing the cap as quickly as possible — but we will only do so if we are confident that adding in more passengers will not erode the service levels that the cap has secured,” a Heathrow spokesperson said. 

Heathrow, the United Kingdom’s largest and busiest airport, struggled to meet demand as the number of travelers returned to pre-pandemic levels before the airport had returned to pre-pandemic capacity.

“At Heathrow, we have seen 40 years of passenger growth in just four months,” Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said when the first cap was announced in July, noting that some areas of airport functions were understaffed and under-resourced and newer employees weren’t yet up to speed. 

When daily passenger counts exceeded 100,000, Holland-Kaye said, service issues, long delays, luggage mix-ups and other problems were exacerbated. 

These problems eased after the cap was instated. 

The Heathrow spokesperson said the cap “resulted in fewer last-minute cancellations, better punctuality and shorter waits for bags.” 

Heathrow has long said that the passenger caps would be kept under review and lifted if it deemed the airport was ready to resume normal services. 

The imminent move to lift the restriction will mean an uncapped winter travel season at Heathrow.  

Tags air travel airport Heathrow Airport John Holland-Kaye London passenger cap United Kingdom

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