By Anviksha Patel
London’s Heathrow airport has extended the limit on departing passengers to October in an effort to reduce flight cancellations and cope with summer demand.
After consulting with airlines, the U.K’s largest airport, owned by Spain’s Ferrovial /zigman2/quotes/207599485/delayed ES:FER +0.99% , will expand its 100,000 cap on the number of departing passengers per day until Oct. 29, the end of the summer season.
Last month, Heathrow introduced the cap, claiming it has since resulted in fewer last-minute cancellations, better punctuality and shorter waits for bags.
The move followed other airports which have put similar limits in place, including London’s Gatwick, Frankfurt airport in Germany and Schiphol airport in the Netherlands.
Heathrow executives say the cap will be kept under review and could be lifted earlier depending on resourcing levels, namely the labor constraint of airline ground handlers. The airport just last week launched a review of airline ground handling as part of a wider evaluation of entire ecosystem.
“Our primary concern is ensuring we give our passengers a reliable service when they travel. That’s why we introduced temporary capacity limits in July which have already improved journeys during the summer getaway,” said Ross Baker, chief commercial officer of Heathrow.
“We want to remove the cap as soon as possible, but we can only do so when we are confident that everyone operating at the airport has the resources to deliver the service our passengers deserve,” he added.
“We are disappointed that Heathrow Airport has already decided to extend the passenger capacity cap until the end of October, as additional resources come on line every week and the airport experience improves,” said a spokesman for Virgin Atlantic.
Staffing shortages have grounded flights and caused long delays across airports worldwide. The Federal Aviation Administration said that it was reducing flights in the area around New York City due to an implied shortage of air-traffic controllers.
Ferrovial recently explored its options to sell its 25% stake in the airport after French private equity firm Ardian approached the Spanish shareholder.