Heathrow has ‘failed miserably’ claims Iata chief

Iata director general Willie Walsh has accused Heathrow of “failing miserably to provide basic services” in his latest broadside against the airport.

Walsh hit out at Heathrow, saying the airport “has tried to blame airlines for the disruption” when data for June would show “the lowest level of service since records began”.

The Iata chief said the cap on passenger numbers imposed by Heathrow in July and similar caps at other hub airports were “preventing airlines from benefitting from the strong demand”.

Walsh also criticised the European Commission for not allowing more flexibility on slot-use rules at major airports.

He said: “These airports are unable to support their declared capacity even with the current 64% slot threshold and have extended passenger caps until the end of October.

“Flexibility is essential in support of a successful recovery.”

Iata reported global air passenger traffic in June returned to almost 71% of the 2019 level, with capacity only slightly higher at 72%.

International air traffic in Europe hit 80% of the 2019 level in June, with intra-European traffic at 93%.

Carriers in North America saw international air traffic return to 83% of the pre-pandemic level in the month, with US domestic traffic at 92% of June 2019.

Middle East airlines operated 75% of 2019’s traffic level, Latin American carriers 73% and African airlines 65%.

Asia-Pacific carriers recorded the strongest year-on-year growth as air traffic in China rebounded following a period of strict Covid-19 lockdowns, but international traffic in the region still barely recovered to 30% of June 2019.

Chinese domestic traffic was at 49% of the June 2019 level, having fallen 45% year on year.

However, Iata reported: “The latest booking data suggest consumers’ willingness to travel remains strong, notwithstanding high energy prices, disruptions and capacity constraints.”

Walsh said: “After two years of lockdowns and border restrictions people are taking advantage of the freedom to travel wherever they can.

“Predictions that the lifting of travel restrictions would unleash a torrent of pent-up demand are being borne out.

“At the same time, meeting that demand has proved challenging and likely will continue to be so.”

He argued: “All the more reason to continue to show flexibility on slot use rules. The European Commission’s intent to return to the longstanding 80-20 requirement is premature.”

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