Heathrow airport has announced that it foresees uncertain demand in the coming months. The airport is preparing itself for what lies ahead as the daily cap on passengers is expected to be removed at the end of October. A new wave of Covid, a potential strike, and the escalating situation in Ukraine are also contributing to the uncertainty.
1. Potential strike in November
According to Euronews, ground workers represented by the Unite union have threatened industrial action in November. The potential strike could lead to severe disruption during the Fifa World Cup. Nearly 700 ground staff are expected to take in a ballot to determine whether the strike takes place or not. The workers are employed by Menzies Aviation and Dnata (Dubai National Air Travel Agency). If approved, the strike would take place in mid-November. The World Cup in Qatar is scheduled to take place from the 20th of November until the 10th of December.
Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption and delays across Heathrow, especially for football supporters traveling to the World Cup.Kevin Hall, Unite union
Euronews reports that both Dnata and Menzies do not agree with the union’s assessment of the situation. Menzies Aviation president Phil Lloyd has criticized the requests made so far. “A pay increase of 7 per cent was implemented in January and we wish to continue an open and honest consultation to make a further increase in 2022,” he told Airline Ground Services.
Management at Heathrow foresees peak days at Christmas. Resource levels across the airport, airlines and their ground handlers have been increasing and one can now remove the cap at the end of the month. The airport is working with its airline partners to develop a more targeted mechanism, which protects passenger service during peak periods.
The focus over the next 12 months is to get capacity, service levels and resilience back to the high levels that they were before the pandemic. This relies on having a regulatory settlement that provides enough cash flow to invest in operations and capital projects and to maintain an investment-grade credit rating.
Heathrow has expressed commitment to target net zero carbon emissions for international aviation by 2050. The airport has been working hard to build support for this and to ensure that government policies are in place to support the rapid increase in the production and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
Passenger service levels, which had been higher than any European hub between January and June, dipped at the beginning of July as passenger demand started to exceed the overall capacity of the aviation ecosystem, but improved significantly after Heathrow introduced a departing passenger cap, which successfully kept supply and demand in balance.
The airport reported that close to 5.8 million passengers traveled through the airport in September, 15% below 2019 levels. The airport recorded the busiest summer out of any European hub airport.