Heathrow airport: bosses say travel chaos at London airport easing - latest on flight cancellations

Heathrow says security staffing is back to pre-pandemic levels

Bosses at Heathrow Airport insist they are beginning to recover from the travel chaos of recent months.

This comes after the airport told airlines to cut their flight programmes to tackle delays and cancellations.

What caused the travel chaos? 

Heathrow and Gatwick ordered airlines to cut their flight schedules following chaotic scenes as staff shortages left them struggling to cope with the sudden demand for overseas holidays.

Many jobs were lost in the industry during the pandemic, leading to a shortage of staff when restrictions were lifted.

In turn, this caused mass delays for holidaymakers, along with cancellations, and lengthy queues as airports struggled with baggage handling, air traffic control and security.

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The government “does not know” whether its Covid travel restrictions worked, MPs say (Photo: Getty Images)

What did Heathrow bosses say?

The group’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said passengers have been seeing “better, more reliable journeys” since the cap on departing flights was enforced.

Heathrow said the cap has “delivered improvements to passenger experience, with fewer last-minute flight cancellations, better aircraft punctuality and baggage delivery”.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Passengers are seeing better, more reliable journeys since the introduction of the demand cap.

“I want to thank all my colleagues across the airport for their amazing work in getting people away on their holidays.”

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Heathrow did not reveal details on when the cap might be lifted, but said boosting airline ground handler operations would be a key factor – “and we have initiated a review of ground handling to support that objective”.

Are travellers being reimbursed for delays and cancellations? 

The group is likely to face a barrage of compensation claims from affected holiday firms and airlines, many of which have laid the blame for disruption squarely at the feet of the airports.

Tui on Wednesday revealed it is seeking to recoup a “significant” sum from the airports it flies from after taking a 75 million euro (£63 million) cost hit due to the recent travel troubles.

British Airways saw almost one third of all its flights from Heathrow Airport delayed in the early months of this year. Photo: Getty

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What is the situation at the airport now? 

Heathrow said security staffing is back at pre-pandemic levels and 88% of passengers have been able to clear security within 20 minutes or less.

The group’s latest passenger statistics revealed it saw 318% more people – a total of 6.3 million – pass through its terminals in July.

It said a further 16 million are expected to travel through Heathrow between July and September as travel demand ramps up.

A review is being conducted into ground handling capacity, as 1,300 more workers have been hired.

Today (11 August), Heathrow has cancelled no flights and there are no delays to any flights at the time of writing.

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What are your rights for a cancelled flight? 

If you had a cancelled flight, the airline must offer to book you on an alternative route as close to your arrival time as possible.

You are entitled to a full refund, but you can only accept a refund or a rebooking - not both.

However, if the cancellation or delay is not due to extraordinary circumstances - you should be entitled to compensation.