British Airways Halts Ticket Sales on Domestic, European Routes From Heathrow

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LONDON—

British Airways

ICAGY -1.94%

is temporarily halting ticket sales on all domestic and European routes from London Heathrow Airport to cope with passenger restrictions at its primary hub, adding to the fallout from this summer’s travel disruption.

BA said the move was aimed at accommodating customers needing to rebook travel because of flight cancellations at the airport. It said the halt in ticket sales would stay in place until Aug. 8.

Airports and airlines have been grappling with a surge in demand this summer as travelers return to the skies after years of depressed travel because of Covid-19-related restrictions. European operators have been hit particularly hard by staffing shortages, which have led to canceled flights, long lines at security and check-in counters, and regular delays to departures.

BA has already pre-emptively canceled thousands of flights to try to alleviate some of the pressures from staffing shortages, and said it had decided to halt some ticket sales in response to restrictions at Heathrow and “the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry.”

London Heathrow last month said it was restricting the total number of departing passengers to 100,000 each day through Sept. 11, asking airlines to meet the restriction by cutting flights and halting ticket sales where necessary.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, which had previously put in place similar limits on departing passengers, separately said Tuesday that it would extend the measure through October because of staffing shortages, particularly among security staff.

Schiphol Airport, a major hub for European travel, will restrict the number of daily departing passengers to 67,500 in September, a move that it said shouldn’t lead to any new cancellations. In October, which includes the autumn holidays, the total will be capped at 69,500. During that two-week autumn break, the airport said it expected on average 3,500 surplus departing passengers would be affected each day.

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The new caps are lower than the 72,500 daily departure limit Schiphol had set for August. That is because passengers traveling in autumn typically bring more clothing, hiking boots and vests as the weather cools, meaning it takes them longer to move through security points, it said.

“Sticking to a maximum number of departing passengers also helps cope with operational changes, such as a delayed flight arrival or departure,” the airport said in a statement. “Virtually all parties at the airport are understaffed, and any unexpected changes can result in delays to the entire airport process at Schiphol.”

Passengers have been asked to arrive at the airport no more than four hours before their flight’s departure, Schiphol said, adding that it has stepped up checks to ensure travelers aren’t arriving too early.

Write to Benjamin Katz at [email protected]

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