Why has British Airways stopped selling short-haul flights from Heathrow?

British Airways has extended the suspension of short-haul sales from Heathrow until mid-August (Steve Parsons/PA)

British Airways has extended the suspension of short-haul sales from Heathrow until mid-August (Steve Parsons/PA)

British Airways has extended its suspension of ticket sales on short-haul flights from Heathrow until mid-August due to continued disruption to flights in recent weeks.

The airline initially suspended sales on domestic and European destinations until August 8 to help maximize rebooking opportunities for existing customers, but this suspension has now been extended to August 15.

The first bookable departures from Heathrow, to destinations such as Athens, Gibraltar and Naples, are on 16 August.

Here’s everything you need to know about BA’s stoppage of ticket sales on short-haul flights from Heathrow.

Why did BA suspend ticket sales on short-haul flights from Heathrow?

Last month, Heathrow, like Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, asked airlines to limit the number of tickets they sell over the summer after limiting the number of passengers flying from the hub to 100,000 per day.

In a statement, BA said: “As a result of Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings, we have decided to take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services to help maximize rebooking options for existing customers, given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry.”

The decision comes amid a struggle for airlines and airports across the UK and Europe to cope with the post-lockdown surge in travel demand, with many unable to recruit enough staff.

Problems with baggage handling systems at Heathrow Airport have also led to passengers seeing huge delays in claiming their bags.

Heathrow’s passenger cap, put in place to limit queues, baggage delays and cancellations, is to remain in place until September 11.

How will the suspension affect ticket prices?

BA’s suspension of ticket sales already appears to have had an impact on fares.

According to flight comparison website Skyscanner, a direct flight from Heathrow to Barcelona on Saturday morning cost a minimum of £650, compared to £295 the following weekend.

Flights from Heathrow to Frankfurt cost just over £553, compared to £248 the following weekend.

The suspension of ticket sales, particularly on late booking routes such as London Heathrow to Edinburgh, has also led to an increase in the prices of BA flights from other airports.

On Sunday 7 August, the only available BA departure from the English capital to the Scottish capital is an evening flight from London City, priced at £426 for a 75-minute flight.

Other airlines, particularly easyJet, are benefiting from BA’s suspension as they stand to pick up more late bookings at high prices.

Flybe is selling its Heathrow-Belfast City flights on August 3 for £300 one way, with just one small 7kg cabin bag included in the price – compared to BA’s 46kg cabin allowance.

How are other airlines responding to Heathrow’s passenger cap?

Last month, Emirates rejected Heathrow’s order to cancel flights to comply with the limit, accusing the airport of showing blatant disregard for consumers by trying to force it to deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers.

Virgin Atlantic also criticized the airport’s actions, claiming it was responsible for errors that contributed to the chaos.

A Heathrow spokesperson said it would be disappointing if an airline wanted to put profit before a safe and reliable passenger journey.

A joint letter was issued by the Competition and Markets Authority and the Norwegian Aviation Authority to airlines expressing concern that consumers may experience significant harm unless the airlines meet their obligations.

The letter said: “We are concerned that some airlines may not be doing everything they could to avoid engaging in one or more harmful practices.”

These include selling more tickets for flights “than they can reasonably expect to deliver”, not always “fully meeting obligations” to offer flights on alternative airlines to passengers affected by cancellations, and failing to provide consumers with “adequately clear and advance information about their rights” “.

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