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British Airways has suspended the sale of tickets for short-haul services departing from London Heathrow airport until Aug. 15.

The move affects services from Heathrow to domestic and European destinations, plus Morocco and Cairo.

This suspension on new short-haul bookings from Heathrow was initially applied for departures up to and including Aug. 8, but this was later extended by another week to Aug. 15. It does not affect BA’s flights from other U.K. airports.

The move comes after Heathrow last month imposed a daily cap on the number of departing passengers using the airport this summer and asked airlines to stop selling tickets. The cap of 100,000 passengers per day is currently due to stay in place until Sept. 11.

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “When Heathrow introduced its passenger cap, we took a small number of additional flights from our schedule and to continue to comply with the cap, we’ve been taking responsible action by limiting sales or all the available fares on some of our Heathrow services to ensure more seats are available to rebook customers.

“We’ll continue to manage bookings to be within the Heathrow imposed cap so we can get our customers away as planned this summer.” 

BA had already decided to cut more than 10,000 flights between the start of August and the end of October as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a shortage of staff following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other major European hub airports, including Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Frankfurt in Germany, have also imposed caps on flights to “stabilize” operations this summer.

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, described BA’s decision to suspend last-minute bookings from Heathrow as “very disappointing” for the corporate travel industry.

“Confidence is vital and, as we approach the end of the summer holiday period, it has never been more important for business travel,” he said.

“British Airways’ suspension of last-minute sales, many of which would have been made to business travelers, is very disappointing, even if the circumstances that caused it are outside of their control.

“It’s vital that all elements of the travel industry work together to deliver robust and reliable services to business and leisure travelers alike. Without the complete collaboration of key travel infrastructure such as airports, traveler confidence will be eroded.”

Originally published by BTN Europe.

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