Most of the cancellations have taken place to internal and domestic destinations within London and Europe
FILE – Travellers queue at security at Heathrow Airport in London. Photo: AFP
Flights from the UAE to London have not been impacted significantly due to the limits placed on ticket sales by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic due to planned strikes by border agents over the winter holidays, according to local travel agents.
“So far, we have not got any notifications from Emirates or Etihad about their flights being impacted,” said Sudheesh TP, GM of Deira Travels. “As far as I know, none of the flights from the Middle East has been impacted.”
However, according to Sudheesh, the travel agency is keeping a watchful eye on the situation. “Most of the cancellations have happened to internal and domestic flights within London and Europe,” he said. “However, it is normal with the procedure during such circumstances that rebooking options are provided to customers. So we are offering date change facilities for free to all those who are flying and may need to change their plans due to possible disruptions.”
UK Border Force workers at several major British airports including the country’s busiest, Heathrow, will go on strike for eight days this month in a dispute over pay. The strikes, from December 23 to 26 and 28 to 31, come at one of the busiest periods for airlines.
Bharat Aidasani, Managing Partner of Pluto travels also said that British Airways (BA) had informed the agency about possible issues. “We were sent a circular by BA saying that there were issues at the airport and some possible delays between 14th and 19th of this month,” he said. “They have advised us to provide all rebooking and flight change facilities for free. It is extremely likely that the period will be extended.”
According to Bharat, the travel disruptions are going to impact the already troubled airport severely. “Ever since the summer disruptions, Heathrow hasn’t lifted the 100,000 travelers a day limit,” he said. “Most of the passengers who are travelling now booked their tickets several months in advance and paid at least 30-40% higher rates than the usual prices. So if their plans are thwarted, it will definitely be bad rap for Heathrow.”
It was during the summer this year that Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, imposed a cap on number of passengers after it witnessed a surge in travel following more than two years of Covid restrictions.
Briton Christine Stewart, who came to visit the UAE, is returning back on Sunday. “So far my flight is on time,” she said. “I have rechecked the status several times. I know there have been some domestic cancellations and that Heathrow is struggling to deal with the influx of passengers. I am a little nervous and I don’t think I can relax until I land in the UK and get home.”