Heathrow ‘stretched’ amid busiest period since pandemic started | Heathrow airport

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Heathrow says it is increasing resources as fast as possible, as March proved to be the busiest month for passengers at the UK’s biggest airport since the pandemic began.

The west London airport, which is aiming to hire 12,000 staff to cope with an expected summer holiday boom, admitted that resources were “stretched” as a surge in bookings creates long delays over the Easter holiday period.

“Following a very weak January and February, passenger numbers in March were the highest since the start of the pandemic, following the government’s removal of all travel restrictions, making the UK the first country in the world to do so,” the airport said.

“The aviation sector has been rebuilding capacity ahead of a summer peak, so resources are stretched. Heathrow is working closely with airlines and ground handlers to make sure this increase in demand can be met while keeping passengers safe.”

Last month Heathrow said that it was embarking on a recruitment drive to cope with a travel boom that would see some days at the airport return to almost pre-pandemic passenger levels. However, the airport said it would feel significantly busier because of additional pre-departure checks.

“Half of global markets still require Covid checks including testing, vaccination status and quarantine, which is causing particular congestion in check-in areas at peak times,” the airport said in an update on Monday.

“Heathrow is advising passengers to check with their airline to confirm when they should get to the airport. Other airport processes are currently working to plan and Heathrow is working with Border Force to ensure sufficient levels of resource are in place to cope with the large number of passengers returning to the UK over the next couple of weeks.”

Heathrow, which intends to reopen Terminal 4 before July, said last month that it is “particularly concerned over Border Force’s ability to scale up to meet demand” for the summer crowds. Failures in passport e-gates as well as additional Covid requirements have at times caused long queues in the immigration halls.

“It is fantastic to see the airport coming back to life after two years, and I want to thank all team Heathrow colleagues for working together to serve our passengers,” said John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow. “Everyone at Heathrow is doing everything we can to make sure passengers get on their way as smoothly and safely as possible.”


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