Britain’s largest airport has ordered airlines to stop dozens of flights on Monday, hitting travel plans for more than 10,000 passengers.
Forty-eight outbound departures have been canceled, along with 15 arrivals.
British Airways, which already cancels 18 percent of summer flights due to lack of resources, has abolished most services.
The Heathrow departure screen shows 36 outbound domestic and European flights, including two departures each to Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. It is understood that many of these were pre-planned cancellations. In addition, BA long-haul departures to New York JFK and Austin are canceled.
Virgin Atlantic has flown to Austin and Delhi, while Air France canceled its early departure to Paris CDG.
A Heathrow spokesman said on Sunday night: “We expect higher passenger numbers in Terminals 3 and 5 tomorrow than the airport currently has the capacity to operate, and to maintain safe operation we have asked some airlines in Terminals 3 and 5 to remove a combined total of 48 flights from the schedule.
“We apologize for the impact on the travel plans, and we are working closely with the airlines to get affected passengers rebooked to other flights.”
Affected passengers are not entitled to cash compensation, because the reason for the cancellation is beyond the airlines’ control.
Under normal circumstances, they can hope to be rebooked the same day on other Heathrow flights, but Virgin Atlantic says the airport has asked airlines not to offer same-day options to limit passenger numbers.
Virgin Atlantic blamed “significant security delays and baggage system failures this weekend” for the cancellations.
A spokesman said: “Our teams are working hard to ensure that customers can complete the journey as quickly as possible, with the option to re-book at a later date or request a refund.
“When we work closely with Heathrow and partners, our collective focus is on our customers, ensuring that we minimize the impact on their journeys.
“We also do everything we can to find and return all luggage that has missed flights to customers as quickly as possible, and load them on the next available services. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused to affected customers. “
In the meantime, Heathrow has published its traffic figures for the first half of the year. Between January and June 2022, the airport handled 26 million passengers – two-thirds of the 39 million that passed through Heathrow in the same six months in 2019.
The airport’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “Last month we saw exponential growth in passenger numbers as almost six million people escaped – equivalent to 40 years of growth in just four months.
“I am very proud of the way our team is taking the challenge of growth, providing excellent service to the vast majority of passengers. However, we have already seen times lately when demand exceeds the capacity of the airport, airlines and ground traders.
“We will review the route changes submitted by the airlines in response to the authorities’ requirements to minimize disruption to passengers this summer and will ask them to take further action if necessary.
“We want everyone who travels through Heathrow to be confident that they want a safe and reliable journey.”
Heathrow made a similar “intervention” on June 30, canceling 30 flights.