Emirates rejects Heathrow demand to cut passengers

By Agence France-Presse

Emirates on Thursday rejected an order from London Heathrow for airlines to reduce passenger numbers to ease summer travel chaos sparked by staff shortages.

The airport had decided to cap the total number of departing passengers at 100,000 per day for two months through to September 11 — and requested that carriers stop selling summer tickets.

“This is entirely unreasonable and unacceptable, and we reject these demands,” Emirates said in a statement.

The cap compares with the planned peak-season daily average of 104,000 passengers.

Heathrow’s move comes as it seeks to ease congestion with demand booming after the removal of pandemic restrictions.

Emirates described as “highly regrettable” the airport’s short-notice order “to comply with capacity cuts, of a figure that appears to be plucked from thin air”.

“Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance,” the airline added.

Emirates operates six daily return flights between Dubai and Heathrow, which Thursday said it would be “disappointing if… any airline would want to put profit ahead (of) a safe and reliable passenger journey”.

British airline Virgin Atlantic meanwhile said it supported Heathrow’s policy “as long as action proposed does not disproportionately impact home carriers at the airport”.

British Airways, which has already axed tens of thousands of summer flights due to staff shortages, will remove a further six daily short-haul journeys in response to the cap.

Airports and airlines are struggling to recruit staff having slashed thousands of posts at the start of the pandemic.