Fri. Mar 31st, 2023

It’s becoming clear that the summer of airport hell will bleed into fall. Due to chronic staff shortages, London’s Heathrow Airport has extended its limits on daily passengers through late October.

A maximum of 100,000 passengers can depart Heathrow every day through October 29, the airport said Monday in a statement. The caps, first announced last month, were slated to expire September 11.

It’s a sign that authorities don’t see the chaos that has afflicted air travel since late spring will magically abate when summer ends. Higher volumes of passengers, combined with staff shortages, has created a perfect storm of long lines and lost luggage.

Heathrow says the cap on daily departing passengers has resulted in fewer last-minute cancellations, better punctuality and shorter waits for bags, and noted that other European airports, including Gatwick, Frankfurt and Schiphol, implemented similar caps this summer. Schiphol has also extended its cap through the end of October.

“We want to remove the cap as soon as possible, but we can only do so when we are confident that everyone operating at the airport has the resources to deliver the service our passengers deserve,” said Ross Baker, Heathrow’s chief commercial officer, in the statement.

Staffing shortages and labor unrest at airports and airlines has been a persistent problem around the world. Earlier this month, Qantas Airways, the flag carrier of Australia, asked senior executives to work as baggage handlers for three months amid a labor shortage.

On Monday, airports around the world tallied more than 21,000 flight delays and 1,600 cancellations, according to FlightAware tracking data.

In the United States yesterday, four airports saw at least 20% of flights delayed. The worst offender was Denver International Airport, where 36% of all flights departed late.

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