British Airways extends suspension of Heathrow ticket sales

BA announced on Monday that it was stopping ticket sales until August 8

British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport in London in July 2020. Reuters
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British Airways has halted ticket sales for short-haul flights from London's Heathrow airport before the middle of this month, after the airport's decision to cap capacity to tackle disruption and cancellations.

The IAG-owned airline said on Tuesday that the sales suspension for domestic and European destinations was designed to leave capacity for existing customers to rebook flights if needed.

The airline's website showed no tickets for flights departing before August 16 to popular European destinations including Paris, Milan and Amsterdam.

A British Airways spokesman declined to say how long the sales pause would last, or the destinations affected.

But he said the airline was trying to manage capacity restrictions that Heathrow said would last until September 11.

"We've been taking responsible action by limiting sales ... on some of our Heathrow services to ensure more seats are available to rebook customers," the spokesman said.

British Airways has cancelled about 13 per cent of planned capacity this summer because of a staff shortage and the steps imposed by Heathrow.

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Heathrow, which has blamed a staff shortage for the upheaval, suggested on Tuesday that the situation was being exacerbated by the summer increase in leisure passengers who are packing liquids in their carry-on bags.

That in turn is prompting more checks, which “slow down the flow through security for all passengers".

Heathrow told airlines on July 12 to limit the number of tickets they sold for flights departing over the next two months, to cap the total number of passengers flying at 100,000 a day and limit queues, delays and cancellations.

Amsterdam's Schiphol airport has taken similar action.

The National checks out Heathrow travel chaos - video

Watch: The National checks out Heathrow travel chaos

Watch: The National checks out Heathrow travel chaos

Airlines and airports across Europe have struggled to cope with the rebound in post-lockdown travel, with many failing to recruit enough staff to handle check-ins and baggage handling.

On July 6, BA said it would reduce its summer schedule and "consolidate some of our quieter services".

Heathrow said last week that the cap had delivered a marked improvement in punctuality and baggage handling.

Updated: August 02, 2022, 10:23 PM