British Airways has suspended the sale of short-haul flights from Heathrow Airport for several days.
Customers will not be able to book on domestic or European services flying from West London Airport until Monday 8th August.
The airline said the suspension will also impact some long-haul flights depending on the date and route.
Fares are still available for booking on BA flights arriving at Heathrow.
The airline said the move came in response to Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings after introducing a cap of 100,000 passengers on flights departing until 9/11 last month.
To reach the limit, BA announced it would cancel 10,300 flights by October, with one million passengers affected.
The airline is now limiting the number of seats it sells on each flight to make sure it stays below the limit.
BA said the move will protect existing bookings because there will be more seats available for customers who miss connecting flights due to disruptions such as air traffic restrictions or weather issues.
In a statement, the airline said, “We have taken preventive action to curtail our schedule this summer to give customers certainty about their travel plans and to strengthen our resilience given the ongoing challenges that l entire aviation industry faces.
“When Heathrow introduced its passenger limit, we took a small number of additional flights from our schedule and to continue meeting the limit, we took responsible action by limiting sales or all available fares on some of our Heathrow services. to ensure that more seats are available to rebook customers.
While this move by BA will allow for greater flexibility for passengers to rebook in the event of further cancellations or disruptions, it reduces consumer choice and will result in significant price increases.
Guy Hobbs, which one? Travel
“We will continue to manage bookings to meet the Heathrow limit so that we can take our customers away as planned this summer.”
However, the airline was criticized for the decision due to concerns that it could raise prices for flights with other carriers.
In recent months, many passengers flying to and from the UK’s busiest airport have experienced severe disruption, with long lines at security and baggage system failures.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of flights have been canceled to meet the demand for air travel due to staff shortages.
Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel, said: “After months of last minute flight delays and cancellations that have caused distress to thousands of travelers, passengers now face this drastic last minute decision by British Airways to suspend flight sales.
“While this move by BA will allow for greater flexibility in rebooking passengers in the event of further cancellations or disruptions, it reduces consumer choice and will result in significant price increases.
“With the possibility of further ticket sales suspensions, people should consider booking as early as possible to avoid last-minute disappointments and inflated fares. They should also consider alternative airports and airlines where possible.
“Airports and airlines must be held accountable for the unacceptable disruption travelers are currently experiencing and the government must take action to ensure that the Civil Aviation Authority has the power to strike operators with substantial fines in cases where which violate the rules “.
Last month, Emirates rejected Heathrow’s order to cancel flights to meet the limit.
The airline accused the airport of showing “blatant disregard for consumers” by attempting to force it to “deny seats to tens of thousands of travelers” through the limit.
A Heathrow spokesperson said at the time it would be “disappointing” if “any airline wants to put a profit ahead of safe and reliable passenger travel.”
Virgin Atlantic also criticized the airport’s actions and said it was responsible for the breakdowns that are contributing to the chaos.
Airlines were accused on 21 July of “harmful practices” in treating passengers affected by disruptions.
The Competition and Markets Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority have issued a joint letter to the carriers, expressing concern that “consumers could suffer significant harm if airlines fail to comply with their obligations”.
The letter said: “We are concerned that some airlines may not do all they can to avoid engaging in one or more harmful practices.”
These included selling more tickets for flights “than they can reasonably expect to provide”, not always “fulfilling their obligations” to offer alternative airline flights to passengers affected by cancellations, and not providing consumers with “sufficiently clear information. and anticipate their rights “.