Heathrow Airport dismisses Christmas capacity cap fears

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Heathrow Airport will not limit the number of passengers who can use it this festive season as it gears up for its “biggest Christmas in three years,” airport chiefs have said.

The west London airport dealt with 5.9 million passengers in October, which is 84% of 2019 levels, and a total of 50 million passengers so far this year, which is 74% of 2019 levels.

Heathrow said it will not need to impose a capacity cap to limit passenger numbers as it has worked with airlines and ground handlers ahead of the Christmas peak and has a good plan in place.

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John Holland-Kaye, chief executive officer, Heathrow Airport (Yui Mok/PA)

“Heathrow, our airline partners and their handlers are all working together to make sure everyone can be reunited with their loved ones this Christmas.”

Passengers were also warned there is a threat of strikes at a number of organisations, including action from the national Border Force, which could hamper travel plans.

Heathrow said it is working with organisations on contingency plans to minimise any impact and is encouraging all parties to put the interests of passengers first.

This comes as the airport has been boosted by a buoyant leisure market thanks to school half term getaways and the gradual return of business travellers.

It also expects a strong recovery in business with the Middle East and Central Asia, which was seen in October, to continue into November.

Heathrow passenger numbers
Heathrow Airport dealt with 5.9 million passengers in October (Aaron Chown/PA)

A year ago, Heathrow blamed the UK’s comparatively strict coronavirus travel rules for it being just the 10th busiest airport in Europe, after being number one in the ranking in 2019.

It said that companies across Heathrow have recruited and trained around 16,000 people over the last 12 months, which is keeping capacity and demand in balance.

Officials believe that at current rates of recruitment, the airport could be on track to get back to pre-pandemic employment levels before the peak summer holiday period in 2023.

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