BREAKING: Emirates SLAMS Heathrow bosses in fiery statement

In a major intervention, the usually well-tempered Emirates Airline has blasted Heathrow management over what it calls “entirely unreasonable and unacceptable” demands.

 

Faced with a capacity crunch over the peak summer season, bosses at the West London airport have sought to proactively reduce passenger numbers to help reinforce the site’s operations.

In a blistering statement released to Key Aero by Emirates this morning, the Dubai-based carrier claims it was given just 36 hours to conform with the capacity cuts, describing the move as being “plucked from thin air.”

The 600-word declaration alleges management incompetency at Heathrow and says that the airline has been threatened with penalties if it does not comply. “Their [Heathrow Airport] communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance.”

 

The high-profile spat is likely to heighten tensions between the airport and its airline partners
The high-profile spat is likely to heighten tensions between the airport and its airline partners Emirates

Emirates says the root of the problems at Heathrow lie largely with the airport, and that its own internal operations are running relatively well: “At LHR, our ground handling and catering – run by dnata, part of the Emirates Group - are fully ready and capable of handling our flights. So the crux of the issue lies with the central services and systems which are the responsibility of the airport operator.”

“The bottomline is, the LHR management team are cavalier about travellers and their airline customers. All the signals of a strong travel rebound were there, and for months, Emirates has been publicly vocal about the matter.  We planned ahead to get to a state of readiness to serve customers and travel demand, including rehiring and training 1,000 A380 pilots in the past year.”

Emirates says it simply isn't practical to have to rebook thousands of passengers at such short notice
Emirates says it simply isn't practical to have to rebook thousands of passengers at such short notice Emirates

“LHR chose not to act, not to plan, not invest. Now faced with an ‘airmageddon’ situation due to their incompetence and non-action, they are pushing entire burden – of costs and the scramble to sort the mess - to airlines and travellers.”

The statement concludes by confirming that “until further notice, Emirates plans to operate as scheduled to and from LHR”. This act of defiance by one of the world’s biggest carriers in the face of alleged legal action is an enormous escalation and a visual indication of just how rocky things are out there.

In response to Emirates' allegations, a Heathrow spokesperson told Key Aero:

“Aviation is a complex network and no one can operate in isolation. The network continues to suffer from COVID-related challenges. While many factors have resulted in the delayed flights, misconnected bags, long waits for arriving bags and last-minute cancellations at Heathrow and airports across Europe in recent weeks – a key issue is airline ground handling teams which are currently only resourced up to 70% capacity to serve passenger demand which has returned to 80-85% of pre-pandemic levels.

“For months we have asked airlines to help come up with a plan to solve their resourcing challenges, but no clear plans were forthcoming and with each passing day the problem got worse. We had no choice but to take the difficult decision to impose a capacity cap designed to give passengers a better, more reliable journey and to keep everyone working at the airport safe."

"We have tried to be as supportive as possible to airlines and our 100k cap on daily departing passengers is significantly higher than the 64k cap at Schiphol. It would be disappointing if instead of working together, any airline would want to put profit ahead a safe and reliable passenger journey.” - Heathrow spokesperson 

 

Read the full Emirates statement below:

 

Emirates values our partnerships with airport stakeholders across our network with whom we engage continuously, and collaboratively, to secure our flight operations and ensure minimal customer disruption, particularly over the peak travel months.

It is therefore highly regrettable that LHR last evening gave us 36 hours to comply with capacity cuts, of a figure that appears to be plucked from thin air. Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance.

This is entirely unreasonable and unacceptable, and we reject these demands.

At London Heathrow airport (LHR), our ground handling and catering – run by dnata, part of the Emirates Group - are fully ready and capable of handling our flights. So the crux of the issue lies with the central services and systems which are the responsibility of the airport operator.

Emirates is a key and steadfast operator at LHR, having reinstated 6 daily A380 flights since October 2021. From our past 10 months of regularly high seat loads, our operational requirements cannot be a surprise to the airport.

Now, with blatant disregard for consumers, they wish to force Emirates to deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers who have paid for, and booked months ahead, their long-awaited package holidays or trips to see their loved ones. And this, during the super peak period with the upcoming UK holidays, and at a time when many people are desperate to travel after 2 years of pandemic restrictions.

Emirates believes in doing the right thing by our customers. 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. Adding to the complexity, 70% of our customers from LHR are headed beyond Dubai to see loved ones in far flung destinations, and it will be impossible to find them new onward connections at short notice.

Moving some of our passenger operations to other UK airports at such short notice is also not realistic. Ensuring ground readiness to handle and turnaround a widebody long-haul aircraft with 500 passengers onboard is not as simple as finding a parking spot at a mall.

The bottomline is, the LHR management team are cavalier about travellers and their airline customers. All the signals of a strong travel rebound were there, and for months, Emirates has been publicly vocal about the matter.  We planned ahead to get to a state of readiness to serve customers and travel demand, including rehiring and training 1,000 A380 pilots in the past year.

LHR chose not to act, not to plan, not invest. Now faced with an “airmageddon” situation due to their incompetence and non-action, they are pushing entire burden – of costs and the scramble to sort the mess - to airlines and travellers.

The shareholders of London Heathrow should scrutinise the decisions of the LHR management team.

Given the tremendous value that the aviation community generates for the UK economy and communities, we welcome the action taken by the UK Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to seek information from LHR on their response plans, systems resilience, and to explain the seemingly arbitrary cap of 100,000 daily passengers. Considering LHR handled 80.9 million passengers annually in 2019, or a daily average of 219,000, the cap represents greater than a 50% cut at a time when LHR claims to have 70% of ground handling resources in place. 

Until further notice, Emirates plans to operate as scheduled to and from LHR.