Between late October and March, British Airways will cancel approximately 10,000 short-haul flights to and from Heathrow Airport.
The move is intended to reduce disruption during the winter, and some long-haul flights will also be affected, according to the airline.
BA also announced that it will reduce a dozen round-trip flights per day, totaling 629 flights, until the end of October.
Due to staff shortages, Heathrow, BA’s main hub, has capped passenger numbers flying from the airport.
Airports and airlines that cut jobs during the peak of Covid restrictions have struggled to find enough staff as demand for vacations has increased.
Heathrow has struggled to keep up with increasing passenger numbers, and problems with its baggage handling systems have resulted in lengthy delays in returning luggage.
BA stated that it was “protecting key holiday destinations during half-term.” During the last week of October, most schools in England are closed.
The majority of cancellations will occur on routes with other daily services to the same destinations, according to a statement.
According to the statement, passengers impacted by the changes will be offered an alternate flight with BA or another airline, or a refund.
BA insisted that the impact on customers would be “minimal,” with the majority of flights remaining unchanged.
“Customers booked for winter will be able to travel as planned, and any changes will be communicated to them several months in advance,” a statement said.
Over the winter, the airline expects to operate an average of 290 round-trips per day from London Heathrow. It will reduce its total capacity for the winter schedule by 8%.
According to aviation consultant John Strickland, the number of flights cut appears to be “very negligible in the context of what they would plan to operate.”
“At this point, they are likely to inconvenience very few people, and I don’t expect any discernible impact on pricing,” he added.
British Airways, the airport’s largest operator, suspended ticket sales on short-haul flights from the airport earlier this month for two weeks. This is to avoid exceeding the airport’s daily passenger limit of 100,000.
This cap was supposed to expire on September 11th, but it was recently extended until October 29th.
Heathrow said in announcing the extension that the cap had worked, resulting in fewer last-minute cancellations and delays and better baggage delivery.
BA had already cut over 30,000 flights over the summer and planned a gradual ramp-up towards the winter. However, due to the passenger cap, it will not be able to run as many as hoped.