• Thu. Aug 4th, 2022

Heathrow’s plea to cut flights is an ‘airmaggedon’, says Emirates | Air industry

ByKimberly A. Brochu

Jul 14, 2022

Emirates has defied Heathrow’s demand that airlines cut summer flights, saying it will continue to operate its scheduled schedule and accusing London Airport of fomenting “airmageddon”.

The Gulf carrier said the airport’s request, made in an effort to alleviate travel disruption, was “totally unreasonable and unacceptable”.

In a searing statement, the airline instead pointed the finger at Heathrow management’s “incompetence and inaction” in failing to prepare for the rebound in flights after coronavirus travel restrictions were lifted.

Heathrow announced on Tuesday it was capping daily passenger numbers at 100,000 during the summer and asking airlines to stop selling tickets for the peak season. The move was designed to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes at airports across the country over Easter and mid-term, caused by growing travel demand at a time of staff shortages.

Apologizing to those affected, Heathrow said on Tuesday the passenger cap would mean some summer flights would either be moved to another day or airport or cancelled.

Airlines have already cut thousands of flights from their summer schedules after UK aviation authorities offered a ‘temporary amnesty’, allowing airlines to escape the loss of valuable take-off and flight slots. landing if they didn’t use them this year. The government said the move would benefit travelers by encouraging carriers to limit the number of last-minute cancellations.

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Heathrow said the cuts did not go far enough, but Emirates which operates six daily return flights between Britain’s busiest airport and Dubai, and operates fleets of A380 superjumbos which cannot be used at smaller airports said it was “very unfortunate” that Heathrow gave it 36 ​​hours on Wednesday to comply with capacity cuts “by a figure that seems to have come out of nowhere”.

The airline said: “Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should kick fare-paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance.”

Growing demand for summer travel after two years of Covid-19 restrictions has overwhelmed airlines and airports across Europe, which are understaffed after scores of pilots, cabin crew, attendants check-in and porters were made redundant. This has left passengers facing last minute cancellations, long delays, lost luggage or long waits for luggage.

Heathrow has a shortage of ground staff, who are hired by airlines to check in passengers, load and unload baggage and prepare planes for onward journeys.

Emirates, however, said its ground handling and catering services are owned by the airline’s parent company and “are fully ready and able to handle our flights”. Rather, the blame lies with “central services and systems” at the airport, he said.

The airline has accused Heathrow management of being ‘cavalier’ about passengers and airlines, with signs of an industry rebound having been apparent for months.

Emirates said that despite preparing for the recovery, including rehiring and training 1,000 pilots over the past year, Heathrow had not acted, planned or invested.

“Now facing an ‘airmageddon’ situation due to their incompetence and inaction, they are pushing the entire burden of costs and scrambling to sort out the mess on airlines and travelers,” the statement read.

Emirates has urged London Heathrow shareholders – largely sovereign wealth funds, including Qatar – to “carefully consider the management team’s decisions”, putting pressure on chief executive John Holland-Kaye.

On Wednesday, Iata chief executive Willie Walsh accused Heathrow of “minimising” the takeover to game the system and maximize profits, adding: “They were clearly wrong.”

Heathrow said it had been asking airlines for months to help develop a plan to address their staffing issues, “but there was no clear plan and with each passing day the problem was getting worse”.

The airport said in response to Emirates’ statement: “We had no choice but to make the difficult decision to impose a capacity cap designed to provide passengers with a better and more reliable journey and to ensuring the safety of everyone working at the airport.

“It would be disappointing if, instead of working together, an airline wanted to put profit before safe and reliable passenger travel.”

It is impossible to rebook so many potentially affected passengers as all flights for the next few weeks are fully booked, including at other London airports and on alternative airlines, Emirates said. Moving some operations to other UK airports in the short term is also unrealistic, he added.