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British Airways halts short-haul Heathrow flight sales

British Airways halts short-haul Heathrow flight sales

LONDON (AFP): British Airways on Tuesday suspended ticket sales for short-haul London Heathrow flights until at least Monday, in order to meet the hub’s request to cap flights due to staff shortages.

The carrier has been among the worst affected by sector-wide turmoil, as airlines eye recovery after the lifting of Covid pandemic travel restrictions.

BA has already axed thousands of short-haul flights this year as it struggles to meet strengthening demand with sufficient staff.

“As a result of Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings, we’ve decided to take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services to help maximise rebooking options for existing customers,” BA said in a statement on Tuesday.

The carrier, which is owned by airline conglomerate IAG, added it took the decision “given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry”.

BA has already been operating a pared-down flights schedule.

In early July, it cut 10,300 short-haul flights up to the end of October.

That brought total flight cancellations to 13 percent of its entire summer schedule.

Separately, BA had last month avoided a strike by its Heathrow ground staff after making an improved pay offer.

Tuesday’s news came after IAG announced last week that it flew back into profit for the first time since the start of the pandemic, boosted by a strong recovery in demand.

IAG logged net profit of 133 million euros ($135 million) in the second quarter, after a loss of 981 million euros a year earlier.

The conglomerate also owns Ireland’s Aer Lingus, as well as Spain’s Iberia and Vueling.

Airlines and airports are struggling to recruit staff after sacking thousands of workers as the world entered Covid lockdowns.

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