Heathrow said a cap on the number of departing passengers introduced last month has resulted in fewer last-minute cancellations and faster departures and baggage delivery.
In July, the airport asked airlines to stop selling summer tickets and imposed a limit of 100,000 departing passengers each day as it struggled to cope with an increase in travel after the end of the Covid travel restrictions. The cap will last until September 11.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said on Thursday the cap was working. “Passengers have enjoyed better and more reliable journeys since the introduction of demand capping,” he said.
Heathrow said it had launched a review of ground handling at the airport and was working to increase border security over the coming weeks.
The comments came as the airport released new figures showing Heathrow recorded the biggest annual increase in passenger numbers of any European airport over the past year, with more than 6million people traveling by July. This marked a 300% increase from a year earlier.
On Tuesday Ferrovial, the Spanish transport infrastructure company, said it was considering options for its 25% stake in Heathrow. The Madrid-listed company said it was in talks after interest from French private equity firm Ardian, which itself has been in talks about a possible joint proposal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Airlines and airports across Britain and Europe have struggled to cope with the rebound in travel, with many unable to recruit enough staff.
Heathrow has asked airlines to limit the number of summer sales after imposing the cap on July 12. Days later, British Airways said it was restricting sales for short-haul flights through the summer, adding that suspending sales would also allow existing customers to rebook flights if necessary. Emirates initially resisted the order, but later agreed to cap sales with BA.
Heathrow said inexperienced travelers were partly to blame for the delays, after people ignored rules banning liquids over 100ml in hand luggage. Anxious passengers had exacerbated queues, with some arriving more than three hours before departure and before check-in opened.
Despite the cap, the number of people taking off from Heathrow averaged 100,000 a day in the first 10 days of the UK summer holidays, making it the busiest time for departures since Christmas 2019, the airport said. New York, Los Angeles and Dubai were the most popular routes.