British Airways has suspended sales of short-haul flights from Heathrow Airport for several days.
Customers will not be able to book any domestic or European flights departing from West London Airport until Monday 8th August.
The airline said the suspension will also affect some long-haul flights, depending on the date and route.
Fares can still be booked on BA flights landing at Heathrow.
The airline said the move was in response to Heathrow’s request to cap new bookings after last month introducing a passenger cap of 100,000 people on departing flights until September 11.
To comply with the cap, BA said it would cancel 10,300 flights by October, with one million passengers affected.
The airline is now capping the number of seats it sells on each flight to ensure it stays under the limit.
BA said the move will protect existing bookings as more seats will be available for customers who miss connecting flights due to disruptions such as flight control restrictions or weather issues.
In a statement, the airline said: “We have taken preventive measures to reduce our flight schedule this summer to give customers peace of mind about their travel plans and to bring more resilience into our operations in light of the ongoing challenges facing the entire airline industry bring to.
“When Heathrow introduced its passenger cap we removed a small number of additional flights from our schedule and in order to continue to comply with the cap we took responsible action by limiting the sale or all available fares on some of our Heathrow connections sure that more seats are available for rebooking customers.
While BA’s move allows more flexibility to rebook passengers in the event of further cancellations or disruptions, it reduces consumer choice and will result in significant fare increases
Guy Hobbs, which one? Travel
“We will continue to manage bookings to stay within the cap imposed by Heathrow to allow us to get our customers away as planned this summer.”
However, the airline has been criticized for the decision amid fears it could inflate prices on flights with other airlines.
In recent months, many passengers flying to and from Britain’s busiest airport have suffered severe disruption, with long security queues and baggage system failures.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of flights have been canceled to cope with demand for air travel due to staff shortages.
Guy Hobbs, editor of which? Travel, said: “After months of delays and last-minute flight cancellations that have caused suffering to thousands of travellers, passengers are now faced with this drastic last-minute decision by British Airways to suspend flight sales.
“While this move by BA allows more flexibility to rebook passengers in the event of further cancellations or disruptions, it reduces consumer choice and will lead to significant price increases.
“As further suspensions of ticket sales are possible, people should book as early as possible to avoid last-minute disappointment and inflated prices. You should also consider alternative airports and airlines if possible.
“Airports and airlines must be held accountable for the unacceptable disruption that travelers are currently experiencing, and the government must act to ensure the Civil Aviation Authority has the power to impose significant fines on operators if they break the rules. “
Last month, Emirates refused Heathrow’s order to cancel flights to comply with the cap.
The airline accused the airport of showing “blatant disregard for consumers” by trying to force it to “deny seats to tens of thousands of travelers” through the cap.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said at the time it would be “disappointing” if “any airline wanted to put profit ahead of safe and reliable passenger travel”.
Virgin Atlantic also criticized the airport’s actions, claiming it was responsible for outages adding to the chaos.
The airlines were accused on July 21 of “harmful practices” in the treatment of passengers affected by disruptions.
The Competition and Markets Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority have issued a joint letter to airlines expressing concern that “consumers could suffer significant harm if airlines fail to meet their obligations”.
The letter states: “We are concerned that some airlines may not be doing everything possible to avoid engaging in one or more harmful practices.”
These included selling more tickets for flights “than they can reasonably expect to be able to deliver”, not always “completely fulfilling commitments”, offering flights on alternative airlines for passengers affected by cancellations, and failing to give consumers “sufficient clarity.” and informing them in advance of their rights”. “.