British Airways trims 10,000 flights through winter amid staffing shortages and dropping demand

British Airways has chopped 10,000 short-haul flights in and out of London’s Heathrow Airport from its winter schedule, citing decreased demand and airport passenger caps.

The move came just after Heathrow Airport’s extension of its 100,000-passenger-per-day limit through the end of October, which the London hub announced earlier this month. The passenger cap was first imposed in July and had originally been in effect through Sept. 11.

Meanwhile, Gatwick Airport said it would not renew the daily flight limits it had imposed in June.

British Airways trims 10,000 flights through winter amid staffing shortages and dropping demand

The British Airways reduction will extend through the end of March 2023 and applies to flights departing or arriving at Heathrow from the U.K. and European destinations. In the shorter term, the carrier also canceled a dozen daily round-trip short-haul flights — those fewer than three hours — over the next two months, 629 total, CNN reported.

“We are making adjustments to our short-haul schedule for the next two months,” a British Airways spokesperson told Reuters, noting that passengers would be offered other flight options, not denied their trips. “We will need to make some further cancellations up to the end of October.”

That’s on top of long-haul cancellations already made noted. The airline’s winter schedule total capacity through the end of March next year will be shaved by 8% overall, about 5,000 round trips.

“We’ll be offering customers affected by any of these changes an alternative flight with British Airways or another airline or the option of a refund,” British Airways said. “The vast majority of our customers will travel as planned, and we’re protecting key holiday destinations.”

While they were intended to enhance customer service amid post-pandemic-lockdown travel surges coupled with staffing shortages, the cuts were another sign of the chaos that has plagued the industry all summer.

Hours-long baggage delays, long lines and flight cancellations have been a hallmark of travel this summer, with other airports joining Heathrow in limiting passenger numbers. One airline even flew 1,000 pieces of luggage across the Atlantic to reunite them with their owners last month after flights between Heathrow and Detroit were canceled.

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