Heathrow Airport has ordered airlines to artificially cap the number of passengers onboard flights over the next two months to prevent potentially dangerous overcrowding in its terminals.
The West London airport reportedly wants to slash the number of passengers passing through Terminal 5, the largest of only four terminals at Heathrow, by as many as 1,200 passengers per hour between the hours of 5 am and 6 pm.
The airport has reportedly blamed delays at check-in rather than at its understaffed security checkpoints for the capacity cut.
British Airways has admitted problems at its check-in desks but chief executive Sean Doyle says many of the delays are unavoidable because of time-consuming pandemic paperwork checks.
The airline is trying to recruit new ground staff with the lure of a £1,000 sign-on bonus, although calls to ease post-Brexit immigration rules to bring in cheaper foreign labour have been roundly rejected by the UK’s Conservative government.
Problems have been amplified at Terminal 5 because airlines were consolidated into fewer buildings during the pandemic. Terminal 4 was closed at the beginning of the pandemic and is only due to reopen later this month.