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British Airways suspends short haul ticket sales from Heathrow

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British Airways has cancelled about 13% of planned capacity this summer due to its own staff shortages and Heathrow cap. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley
British Airways has cancelled about 13% of planned capacity this summer due to its own staff shortages and Heathrow cap. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley

British Airways (BA) announced it has stopped selling short haul flight tickets due to the passenger cap introduced by Heathrow airport last month.

Britain's flag carrier, owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L), initially suspended flights over the last weekend of July, but that has now been extended to 8 August, and could continue beyond that date.

The airline is by far the largest carrier at Heathrow and so is disproportionately affected by the airport’s 100,000 passengers a day cap. It has said the changes "will continue until the end of the year".

Read more: FTSE 100: British Airways owner IAG cuts capacity outlook despite returning to profit

BA's move comes as the airline already cancelled about 13% of planned capacity this summer due to its own staff shortages, as well as the measures introduced by Heathrow.

As the industry struggles to meet demand, leading to thousands of flights cancellations and delays amid the key summer holiday period, here's what BA's latest cuts mean for your travel plans.

Watch: BA suspends sales of short-haul tickets from Heathrow

Which routes are affected?

BA's sales suspension will affect flights to domestic and European destinations, including Nice, saying the move was designed to allow existing customers to rebook flights when needed.

That means all short haul tickets sales on the airline’s routes will be suspended up to and including Monday 8 August, and potentially beyond that date as the travel chaos continues.

Short haul passengers travelling from Heathrow up to Sunday 7 August can change to an alternative flight for free, the airline said.

Reports say that the passenger cap may see ticket sales restricted for the rest of the summer due the demand for last-minute holidays.

Read more: Summer travel: Which airlines have cancelled flights? All you need to know

According to the Times, prices on rival carriers could be pushed up as a result of the BA cancellations and surging demand for tickets.

A spokesperson for BA said: "As a result of Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings we’ve decided to take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services to help maximise rebooking options for existing customers, given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry."

British Airways as a response to the cap said it would cancel 10,300 flights until October, affecting one million passengers. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty
British Airways as a response to the cap said it would cancel 10,300 flights until October, affecting one million passengers. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty

Why have flights been cancelled?

In July, Heathrow introduced a passenger cap that limited daily departures to 100,000. That cap is set to remain in place until 11 September.

British Airways as a response to the cap announced it would cancel 10,300 flights until October, affecting one million passengers.

It came as Amsterdam's Schiphol airport announced on Tuesday that passenger caps introduced for the summer season to cope with long waiting times will be extended into September (67,500 per day) and October (69,500 per day).

Read more: Travel insurance - The 10 mistakes stopping you from getting a payout

Meanwhile, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority issued a joint letter to airlines expressing concern that “consumers could experience significant harm unless airlines meet their obligations".

The letter states: "We are concerned that some airlines may not be doing everything they could to avoid engaging in one or more harmful practices.”

Those include selling more tickets for flights "than they can reasonably expect to supply", not always "fully satisfying obligations" to offer flights on alternative carriers to passengers affected by cancellations, and failing to give passengers "sufficiently clear and upfront information about their rights".

Watch: Airline refunds: What are your rights as a consumer?

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