Heathrow has warned it will ask airlines to cancel even more flights this summer if current cancellations aren’t enough to stem the travel chaos.
The warning comes as dozens of flights were suspended from the airport today, which are expected to affect up to 10,000 passengers.
A total of 61 flights were canceled this morning, including 48 departures.
British Airways is the airline hardest hit by the cancellations, with some short-haul flights to Ireland and Scotland grounded, as well as some long-haul flights to America.
A Heathrow spokesman told Sun Online Travel: “We are expecting higher passenger numbers in Terminals 3 and 5 today than the airport can currently handle and to maintain safe operations we have asked some airlines to remove Terminals 3 and 5 a A total of 61 flights from the timetable.
“We apologize for the impact on travel plans and are working closely with airlines to re-book affected passengers on alternative flights.
“While Heathrow ramps up its resources and will have as many security officers this summer as it did before the pandemic, airspace restrictions across Europe and a shortage of airline groundhandling staff may pose a risk to the smooth running of operations.
“As a result, we will take action, where necessary, to ensure passengers receive the level of service they deserve.”
Today’s cancellations are unlikely to be the last, after Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye last month ordered airlines from the Government and Civil Aviation Authority to ensure their flight schedules are “deliverable”.
The order came after they were unable to meet demand during the Platinum Jubilee school holiday season.
Staff shortages have caused long queues at the airport this summer as thousands of travelers have been hit by the travel chaos.
The airport had to cancel flights several times because “there were more passengers than the airport’s capacity”.
In a bid to find a solution to the problems, airlines have cut a number of flights in the coming months.
However, Holland-Kaye said Heathrow may have to ask for more flights to be cancelled.
He said: “We have already seen periods of recent times when demand exceeds the capacity of the airport, airlines and ground handlers.
“We will review flight schedule changes that airlines have submitted in response to government calls to minimize disruption to passengers this summer and urge them to take further action if necessary.
“We want everyone traveling through Heathrow to be confident that they will have a safe and reliable journey.”
Adding to the airport’s troubles is a planned strike later this month.
It was announced last week that the industrial action will “significantly disrupt” thousands of family holidays.
Employees at Heathrow’s Aviation Fuel Services (AFS) fueling company are threatening to leave for three days.
The strikes last from July 21-24, affecting the first weekend of the summer holidays and millions of passengers traveling abroad.
More than 70 airlines, including Virgin, Delta and KLM, are expected to be affected as the union fights to end its three-year wage freeze with a double-digit wage increase.
Departures at the airport were recently suspended due to passengers having to wait hours for their luggage to be returned.
Heathrow bosses asked passengers not to show up more than three hours before their flight due to the broken bag drop system.