Friday August 19, 2022

Long queues at Heathrow Airport as baggage-reclaim system chokes

June 26, 2022

LAHORE: An insane chaos at the baggage reclaim systems of London’s Heathrow Airport continues to compound the woes of the travelers as flight cancellations and airport delays are expected to persist and affect the summer holiday plans for many.

Numerous British media outlets have asserted in their regular updates on the issue that cancellation of flights and dearth of aviation industry staff shortages have primarily led to this mayhem at Europe’s busiest airport, which also happens to be the seventh busiest in the world based on passenger traffic.

While staff shortages are affecting ground handling operations, air traffic control delays are a by-product of this worsening situation too.

According to a recent “BBC News” report: “Airlines had already been struggling with staff shortages, and now face further disruption after aviation workers at Heathrow and across Europe voted to strike. Some operators have begun cancelling flights, to try to prevent a repeat of the chaos seen at airports in recent months.”

And a few days ago, this media house had revealed that 30 flights carrying up to 5,000 passengers were cancelled at Heathrow Airport due to technical issues affecting baggage. The airport had asked airlines to cut 10% of flights from schedules across terminals two and three on last Monday.

The “BBC News” maintains: “British Airways, which operates from terminals three and five, told the BBC it had made a "small number of cancellations" as a result of the airport's request. It understood BA will be able to re-accommodate the vast majority of customers onto new flights. Hundreds of flights across the UK were cancelled during the week of the Platinum Jubilee and half-term holidays.”

The 93-year-old Heathrow Airport, originally called London Airport until 1966, had handled over 22 million passengers and 2,07,070 aircraft movements in 2020, and in 2021, it served 19.4 million travelers, the lowest level since 1972, obviously hit by Covid-19 pandemic-induced travel curbs. In 2022, according to Heathrow Airport forecasts of June 23, some 54.4 million passengers would go through its terminals, up from the 52.8 million it had predicted in April this year.

London’s “Financial Times” newspaper writes: “The Heathrow Airport expected its adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization to rise 257 per cent from 2021 to 1.37 billion pounds. The revenue is forecast to double to 2.6 billion pounds, although inflation has begun to bite. Staffing and energy costs amount on average to 45 percent of an airport’s operating costs, Airports Council International figures show. The UK on Wednesday reported 9.1 per cent inflation in May, a 40-year high. Higher energy prices will drive up its operating costs by almost half to 1.2 billion pounds, Heathrow said on Thursday last.”