Everyone is a loser in the latest airport farce, except Ryanair

Everyone is a loser in the latest airport farce, except Ryanair

Everyone is a loser in the latest airport farce, except Ryanair

british airways suspending flight booking travel chaos heathrow - getty

british airways suspending flight booking travel chaos heathrow – getty

How the hell did it come to this: our national airline suspended bookings from Britain’s main airport? BA’s confirmation last night that it will no longer sell tickets on short-haul flights departing Heathrow until August 8 would have been inconceivable just a few months ago. Now it’s just the latest extraordinary twist in this summer’s litany of travel chaos.

The suspension is a direct result of Heathrow’s imposition of a daily ceiling of 100,000 passengers, the maximum it believes it can address under the current circumstances. And it could last longer. BA didn’t answer my question as to whether the booking block could be extended, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it was: the airport limit is in effect until 12 September.

Last month there was a flurry of recriminations between Heathrow and the airlines it serves, with Virgin Atlantic and Emirates criticizing the airport’s failures. Meanwhile, speaking to Radio Four’s Today program, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye accused the airlines: “Airports do not provide ground handling, which is provided by the airlines themselves. So it’s like accusing ourselves of not having enough riders ”.

The rhetoric has now been toned down, with Heathrow saying punctuality and baggage handling services have improved due to the limit. BA’s latest statement still blames the airport, but tries to make virtuous its decision to stop selling tickets on some flights: “Following Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings, we have decided to take action in responsibly and limiting the rates available on certain Heathrow services to help maximize rebooking options for existing customers given the restrictions placed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry. “

But this is certainly not a situation that no one – neither the travel industry nor us passengers – would like to find themselves in. Millions of us have already had our travel plans ruined or altered, and many more have been subject to chaotic queues, long delays and lost luggage. Now, for next week, we are unable to book a seat on many of BA’s main services to Europe.

It is understandable that the travel industry faces challenges in recovering from the impact of the pandemic. But the failure of so many airports and airlines to anticipate and manage the huge increase in bookings in recent months has been regrettable. And it was highlighted by the success of the few who did it well.

Among these, Ryanair stands out. True, he was helped by the fact that he does not fly from Heathrow, one of the hardest hit airports, and one of his largest bases is Stansted, which has performed well. But she managed to manage almost all of her services as planned this summer. And as a result, he will be the biggest winner due to the latest restrictions. While BA and Heathrow hold reservations, Ryanair is open for business.

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