London Heathrow Airport in the UK has apologised to passengers for travel disruption after recording what it claims to be 40 years of traffic growth in the last four months alone.
The airport recorded 26.07 million passengers between January and June, of which 5.99 million travelled in June.
During the first six months of this year, the airport recorded 172,432 air transport movements and handled 688,287 metric tonnes of cargo. In June, the figures were 34,696 and 112,555 metric tonnes, respectively.
Heathrow said that service levels were not ‘acceptable’ amid the recent ‘unprecedented’ traffic.
This resulted in luggage delays, long queues and delays for travellers with reduced mobility.
As with other airports worldwide, Heathrow has been experiencing chaos due to staff shortages amid a summer rush as Covid-19 bans are being lifted.
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The airport was also recently hit by a baggage system glitch, which led to an enormous luggage pile-up.
Adding to its woes is the strike by the airport’s refuelling workers over pay disputes, which is scheduled for later this month.
The airport said that rebuilding capacity quickly is ‘very challenging’ after a headcount reduction during the pandemic. Besides, ‘very low’ punctuality of arrival flights due to delays at other airports and airspace congestion across Europe is said to have increased hurdles.
Heathrow reopened Terminal 4 last month to offer more capacity. The airport also said that it initiated hiring last November in anticipation of this rebound in passenger volume.
It expects to have as many security staff as during the pre-pandemic period by the end of the month.
To prevent further disruption, Heathrow has asked travellers to ensure that they do not arrive at the airport earlier than three hours before their flights.
Recently, the UK also eased slot rules to help airlines offer realistic schedules and prevent last-minute flight cancellations.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “We will review the schedule changes that airlines have submitted in response to the government’s requirement to minimise disruption for passengers this summer and will ask them to take further action if necessary.”
Furthermore, Heathrow has been asked to reduce landing charges each year until 2026. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the decision reflected the recovery in traffic.