Heathrow has warned it will ask airlines to cancel more flights this summer if it does not believe previous schedule reductions will sufficiently reduce disruption.
Carriers were ordered by the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority last month to make sure their timetables are “deliverable” after the sector was unable to cope with demand during the Platinum Jubilee half-term school holiday period.
The punctuality of arriving flights is “very low” and there have been “periods in recent weeks where service levels have not been acceptable”, Heathrow admitted.
Problems include “long queue times, delays for passengers with reduced mobility (and) bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late”, according to the airport.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We have already seen times recently when demand exceeds the capacity of the airport, airlines and ground handlers.
“We will review the schedule changes that airlines have submitted in response to the Government’s requirement to minimise disruption for passengers this summer and will ask them to take further action if necessary.
“We want everyone who is travelling through Heathrow to be confident that they will have a safe and reliable journey.”
Heathrow said rebuilding flight capacity quickly is “very challenging” after the “significant reductions in resource across the entire aviation supply chain” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Problems with the punctuality of arrivals are due to airspace congestion and delays at other airports which has “compounded the challenge of resource constraints for the airport, airlines, ground handlers and government agencies”.
Heathrow issued an apology to “any passengers who have been affected” by disruption, but added that “we have been able to provide a good level of service for the vast majority of passengers”.
The number of passengers who travelled through Heathrow during the first half of the year was 26 million, which is more than six times higher than the same period in 2021.
Mr Holland-Kaye said the airport experienced “exponential growth” last month, with nearly six million passengers.
In terms of passenger numbers, Heathrow has recorded “the equivalent of 40 years of growth in just four months”, he added.
“I am very proud of the way that our team is rising to the challenge of growth, and giving excellent service to the vast majority of passengers.”