Passengers could be “kicked off flights” this summer as Heathrow airport urges carriers to trim numbers to avoid cancellations, it is reported.
Bumping travellers off planes could mean some flights will depart partially empty, according to the Telegraph.
The newspaper said the strategy was discussed between the airlines and Heathrow bosses on Thursday (July 14), as the airport attempts to trim the number of departing passengers.
Reducing the number of seats on flights, possibly by as much as 25%, could mean the flights are not cancelled, said the report.
More: Government and CAA intervene to question Heathrow summer capacity cap
On Tuesday (July 12), Heathrow set a daily cap of 100,000 on departing passenger numbers for the remainder of the summer – a reduction of 4,000 a day on current figures.
And on Thursday, the Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority wrote a joint letter to Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye asking why “Heathrow has determined that 100,000 departing passengers per day provides a safe and resilient airport with a positive passenger experience”.
It asked for a reply by midday today (Friday) to give an assurance that the airport has enough staff for security screening and to assist disabled passengers.
When asked by Travel Weekly if there had been a response from the airport, a CAA spokesperson said: “We remain in constant discussions with Heathrow Airport and the airlines.
“We continue to encourage all parties to collaborate effectively in minimising disruption for passengers this summer and ensure a positive passenger experience.”
Emirates has refused to cancel any of its flights, saying the airport’s demands are “entirely unreasonable and unacceptable”.
British Airways said the cap was “incredibly disappointing news for our customers” but said it will cancel “a small number” of additional flights.
In an open letter to passengers explaining the need for the cap, Holland-Kaye said: “By the end of July we will have as many people working in security as we had pre-pandemic. New colleagues are learning fast but are not yet up to full speed.
“However, critical functions in the airport are still significantly under resourced, in particular ground handlers, who are contracted by airlines to provide check-in staff, load and unload bags and turnaround aircraft. This is a significant constraint to the airport’s overall capacity.”