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Heathrow restrictions impact India-London flight, more could follow, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld


Heathrow restrictions impact India-London flight, more could follow

Virgin Atlantic cancelled its Delhi-London flight recently and other airlines might follow suit with Heathrow airport’s decision this week to limit the number of passengers to one lakh a day to cope with a staff crunch. There are 102 direct flights a week between India and Heathrow airport – British Airways (41), Virgin Atlantic (21), Air India (33) and Vistara (seven).

“Due to mandatory flight capacity restrictions being implemented by Heathrow Airport on all airlines on Thursday 14 July, we’ve regrettably had to cancel one of our London Heathrow – New York (JFK) return services, operating as flight numbers VS45 and VS4 and our morning departure to Delhi, flight VS302,” Virgin Atlantic said in a statement.

It added that it is contacting affected customers and will rebook them on an alternative flight on the same day wherever possible with the option to rebook on a later date or request a refund.

The limits on passenger numbers imposed by Heathrow airport will remain from July 12 to September 11. British Airways and Air India are also expected to cancel or reschedule some of their India-Heathrow flights to adhere to the passenger number limits, according to an aviation industry source.

Britain’s busiest airport, like others across Europe, is struggling to cope as demand rebounds after the pandemic. Heathrow had between 110,000 and 125,000 daily passengers departures in July and August 2019. Airlines at Heathrow had already responded to a government appeal to cut capacity, but the airport said it needed them to go further.

British Airways and Air India did not respond to PTI’s requests for statements on the matter. Vistara operates a daily Delhi-Heathrow flight and it has not been affected as yet, said a senior executive of the airline. However, the airline did not respond to PTI’s request for a statement on the matter.

On July 12, Heathrow Airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said in a statement that over the past few weeks, as departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded one lakh per day, the airport has started to see periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable: long queue times, delays for passengers requiring assistance, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late, low punctuality and last-minute cancellations.

He said there are some critical functions in the airport which are still significantly under resourced, in particular ground handlers, who are contracted by airlines to provide check-in staff, load and unload bags and turnaround aircraft.

“Our assessment is that the maximum number of daily departing passengers that airlines, airline ground handlers and the airport can collectively serve over the summer is no more than 1 lakh,” he added.





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