Emirates is appealing to travelers’ heartstrings in an effort to avoid implementing schedule cuts at London Heathrow that are sought by the airport operator to avoid further operational meltdowns this summer.
“Emirates believes in doing the right thing by our customers,” the Dubai-based airline said Thursday. “However, re-booking the sheer numbers of potentially impacted passengers is impossible with all flights running full for the next weeks, including at other London airports and on other airlines.”
“We reject these demands,” Emirates went on to say in response to Heathrow’s request to cut capacity and stop selling seats on its flights to the airport through September 11. It called the request as “unreasonable and unacceptable” and “with blatant disregard for consumers.”
Heathrow has been dogged by the operational issues that plague European air travel this summer. Images of piles of lost luggage have grabbed headlines, while travelers have also faced long queues, as well as flight delays and cancellations that are mostly attributed to staffing shortfalls. The airport’s largest airline, British Airways, has cut its Heathrow capacity by 13 percent from pre-summer plans through October.
Emirates, for its part, said that its ground handling provider at Heathrow, Dnata, is fully staffed.
What happens next between Emirates and Heathrow is unclear. The airline said the airport threatened “legal action” if it did not comply with the request to reduce seats and stop sales. However, a court case could take some time to reach a conclusion, potentially longer than the caps are in place. In addition, slots — or the right for an airline to land or takeoff at an airport — at Heathrow are managed by Airport Coordination Limited, and not by the airport itself.