British Airways is on the verge of halting sales of long-haul flights to destinations such as New York as the airline struggles at Heathrow.
The carrier has already suspended ticket sales for short-haul flights from the country’s biggest airport for at least a week in response to a daily passenger cap.
But a spokesperson confirmed that BA cannot rule out stopping Heathrow’s long-haul routes as long as the limit remains in place.
This can drive up prices and mean travelers trying to book last-minute trips to more distant destinations like New York, Singapore or Dubai may not be able to find seats.
And budget rival Ryanair on Wednesday suggested it was well positioned to capitalize on the turmoil.
Eddie Wilson, chief executive officer of the carrier’s main unit, said other airlines had been complacent in hiring enough staff for this summer.
“The time to hire for this summer was last October,” he told Bloomberg. “This is not like running a warehouse where you can just take people, they need to be part of a training process.
“Our view was, which has been confirmed, that when demand comes back, it will come back in one go and not come back on the trickle.
“So I think we were better prepared and optimistic.
“But, I spice it up with, it’s been difficult even when we come back because we have to get into airports that don’t have the resources.”
Heathrow announced last month that a maximum of 100,000 people a day could fly until 9/11.
It followed a similar move by Gatwick to limit the number of flights that can operate after chaotic scenes at Britain’s busiest airports this summer, with large numbers of passengers subject to long queue hours, lost or delayed luggage and cancellations. last minute.
Alex Macheras, an independent aviation analyst, said it was “realistic” to expect BA would also need to reduce long-haul flight sales amid ongoing disruptions.
He said: “With the current restrictions, limits and pressures being placed on airlines, there is no way to guarantee that any long-haul flights will be affected.
“BA’s global route network is incredibly vast, and while short-haul flights with multiple frequencies are always the first to hit, they also operate long-haul flights with multiple frequencies. So there’s also room to reduce scheduling .
“The outstanding example would be the route to New York, but also other flights to North America and Southeast Asia.
“There are also routes, to Doha for example, where they can transfer passengers to flights with partner airlines like Qatar Airways.”
However, he said that in most cases, passengers would only be forced to book long-haul flights at a different time, rather than being forced to travel on an entirely different day.
The BA spokesperson said that ticket sales suspensions are being handled on a case-by-case basis, with no general restrictions imposed.
For example, if ticket sales for a morning flight to New York are paused, travelers can still book an afternoon flight.
BA’s move to stop sales of all Heathrow short-haul flights is unprecedented.
More than half of the flights departing the airport are operated by the carrier, which has already canceled tens of thousands of flights for lack of staff.
BA says it’s a “responsible” course of action, however the move is likely to cost the airline a small fortune in lost sales.
Many of its flights still have empty seats, but the disruption to sales will ensure there is spare capacity for passengers to be rescheduled if there are more disruptions this summer or delays that cause some people to miss connections.
Heathrow blamed the need for a passenger cap on “critical functions at the airport that are still significantly under-resourced”.
In particular, he complained about the lack of check-in staff, porters and other logistics staff used by airlines.
Restrictions imposed on passenger numbers are expected to cost airlines up to half a billion pounds, according to aviation data firm OAG.