BA suspends short-haul ticket sales from Heathrow.
In an unprecedented move, British Airways has taken all short-haul flights from its main base, London Heathrow, off sale until at least August 9.
The move complies with Heathrow Airport’s decision to cap capacity and tackle widespread disruption and cancellations.
It will result in thousands of seats being removed from sale and is expected to push already high prices up further across the industry.
BA, which operates more than half the flights from Heathrow airport, said: “We’ve decided to take responsible action”.
“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, given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry,” the airline said in a statement.
Aviation experts said it was “very possible” that ticket sales would be restricted for the rest of the summer, including the August bank holiday, because of huge demand for last-minute holidays.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” a senior aviation source told The Times.
“BA will have hated having to do this at the peak of the summer season. It completely removes them from the lucrative last-minute market at a crucial time.”
BA has also been accused of artificially inflating prices on some routes to deter bookings. “There have been times when London-Edinburgh has been north of £400 one way,” one source said.
“They were doing this to deter bookings. Even the vast majority of business customers wouldn’t pay that.”
Heathrow has been struggling with massive queues and disruption to its baggage handling operation this summer, with arriving passengers leaving the airport without their bags and having to wait for a week for their luggage to be repatriated.
Last month, British Airways said it will cancel 10,300 flights until October, with a million passengers affected.