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Holidaymakers face another summer of disruption, Heathrow chief admits

·2-min read
heathrow
heathrow

Holidaymakers face another summer of disruption at Heathrow, the airport’s chief executive has admitted, as the travel industry struggles to recruit enough staff to meet demand.

John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s chief executive, warned it is “absolutely possible” that flight numbers would need to be restricted in 2023.

“This is not going to be a quick fix,” he said. “It’s absolutely possible that we could have another summer with a cap still in place. It’s going to take 12 to 18 months, and not just at Heathrow.”

Heathrow announced a daily cap of 100,000 passengers passing through the airport earlier this month to try and limit disruption. The cap is currently due to be in place until September.

The spectre of caps being imposed on airlines again next year is likely to further anger carriers. A row broke out when restrictions were implemented at Britain's busiest airport earlier this month.

Emirates, the world’s biggest international airline, attacked the “incompetence and non-action” of Heathrow that had left the airport in an “airmageddon” situation and initially refused to cancel flights.

Meanwhile, the finance chief of Ryanair, which does not operate from Heathrow, said the airport had failed to do “the one job” it was supposed to do by hiring enough people.

Separately on Tuesday, easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren insisted it will survive as an independent airline — despite revealing a £133m loss from the recent travel chaos.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren attacked Michael O’Leary, his counterpart at Ryanair, over claims easyJet would be bought by a rival.

Mr O’Leary told the Telegraph last October that it was certain easyJet would be bought by either British Airways or Air France, in the weeks that followed a failed takeover bid by Wizz Air.

EasyJet’s share price has halved to a 10-year low since the Irish executive’s comments.

But Mr Lundgren today dismissed his rival’s comments as “nonsense speculation by a competitor”.

Mr Lundgren said that easyJet would seek compensation from airports such as Gatwick for capping flight numbers this summer in a bid to get a grip on travel chaos.

The decision at Gatwick forced easyJet to cancel around 10,000 during July and August.

Mr Lundren said compensation was "clearly something that we will be discussing with [airport] operators”, but refused to provide further details.

The remarks came as easyJet posted a £114m loss in the three months to June, a period when airlines would typically generate profits that make up for the lean or loss-making winter months.

The loss was driven by a £133m charge from cancellations, staff shortages and disruption, the airline announced.