London Heathrow airport Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye defended a flight cap that’s truncated airline schedules and upset travel plans for thousands of Britons, saying the move has greatly reduced delays.
The limit of 100,000 daily departing passengers has delivered improvements to the customer experience, with fewer last-minute cancellations and better aircraft punctuality and baggage delivery, Holland-Kaye said in a statement Thursday.
“Passengers are seeing better, more reliable journeys since the introduction of the demand cap,” the CEO said.
Heathrow said that 88% of passengers now clear security within 20 minutes after the hiring of 1,300 new staff, while the airport has begun a review of capacity and resilience at ground-handling providers, which remain short of workers. Border Force, once a focus of delays for arrivals, has performed well, it said, and is working to secure sufficient resources for the summer peak.
Heathrow has warned that there’ll be no quick fix to the staffing crisis and that the passenger cap, which prompted a backlash from airlines, may need to remain in place for another summer. Holland-Kaye has blamed carriers, saying they need to take a more aggressive approach to hiring personnel like check-in staff, baggage handlers and air-bridge operators.
The airport, Europe’s busiest prior to the coronavirus crisis, still lured 6.3 million passengers in July and has seen the largest rebound in numbers of any hub in the region over the past year, according to the statement. It expects to attract 16 million people in the July-September quarter.