The UK carrier said the move follows Heathrow's request for airlines to limit new bookings after introducing a limit of 100,000 daily departing customers on July 12 to help cope with a staffing crisis. BA is the largest airline based at the airport so has been disproportionately affected by the cap.
Sales on its domestic and European routes and via Morocco and Cairo have been suspended until August 8. It is intended to stabilise the situation for passengers who already have tickets, but risks causing further problems for those seeking last-minute flights.
“We’ve decided to take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services to help maximise rebooking options for existing customers, given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry,” a BA 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.
Airlines and airports across Europe are struggling to meet demand that is rebounding strongly from the coronavirus crisis, with the London port warning last week that the situation could persist through next summer.
The cap on sales imposed by BA is similar to measures adopted by Air France-KLM’s Dutch unit in late May as signs of travel chaos this summer were emerging.
Like Heathrow, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and London’s smaller Gatwick have also imposed curbs on departures.
Capacity caps may have crimped passenger numbers, but they have also bolstered fares in a sector where demand was already close to matching supply on many routes.
An economy class seat with hand baggage only from London’s smallest airport, City, to Frankfurt on August 2 was as much as £417 ($512) one way, although return fares were considerably cheaper at about £190, a search on BA’s website shows.
A flight to Milan Malpensa from London Gatwick was slightly cheaper at £354.