Emirates airline has rejected an order from Heathrow requiring it to cancel flights to and from west London airport to comply with a cap on passenger numbers.
The Dubai-based carrier said on Wednesday it had been given 36 hours to comply with Heathrow’s order, as the airport tries to ensure it can operate without further travel delays during peak summer travel.
Airlines and airports around the world have struggled to cope with high demand this year after pandemic travel restrictions were lifted, due to staff shortages.
Emirates said: “LHR [London Heathrow] last night gave us 36 hours to comply with capacity reductions, a figure that seems to come out of nowhere.
“Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should kick fare-paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance.
“This is completely unreasonable and unacceptable, and we reject these requests.”
He added: “Until further notice, Emirates plans to operate as scheduled to and from LHR.”
Heathrow announced this week that despite the airlines’ own flight cuts – many under the government niche amnesty – it was imposing his own cap this would reduce passenger numbers by 4,000 per day until mid-September.
He said his airline partners should stop selling extra tickets to help with this effort and minimize the effect on passengers and their own operations.
The request sparked a furious reaction airlines, with the head of an industry body accusing Heathrow of trying to maximize profits at their expense.
Emirates added: “Ultimately, the LHR management team is cavalier about travelers and their air customers.
“All the signals of a strong rebound in travel were there, and for months Emirates spoke publicly about it.
“We planned ahead to get to a state of readiness to serve customers and travel demand, including rehiring and training 1,000 A380 pilots over the past year.
“LHR has chosen not to act, not to plan, not to invest. Now facing an ‘airmageddon’ situation due to their incompetence and inaction, they are pushing the whole burden – of cost and scramble to sort through the mess – to airlines and travelers.
“London Heathrow shareholders should scrutinize the decisions of LHR’s management team.”
Heathrow has been contacted for comment.