British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) has temporarily stopped selling predominantly short-haul tickets from London Heathrow until August 8 after the airport capped capacity to avert congestion and flight disruptions.

"We're predominantly focussing on short-haul due to the number of flights we have but it will also impact long-haul on some dates/routes," the airline said in a statement. The sales suspension would allow existing customers to rebook flights when needed. "This isn't about cancellations. Our flights are operating as planned and customers already booked are unaffected. The action we're taking will ensure we can keep seats free if existing customers need to rebook e.g. transfer customers that misconnect," the airline explained.

Heathrow has reported an improvement in punctuality, baggage handling, and fewer cancelled flights after it capped capacity at 100,000 departing passengers daily for the period July 12 to September 11, 2022. An estimated 13 million people are expected to travel in and out of the airport between July and September, with more than one million having departed in the last 10 days, the airport said.

"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," British Airways said.

"We're constantly reviewing the number of customers departing from Heathrow and dynamically managing the situation across our schedule. This could be limiting seats for sale, but on some occasions or dates, we need to stop sales to ensure we don't exceed the Heathrow Airport cap. The benefit of this approach is that we can protect existing bookings, and should there be any on-the-day operational disruption (e.g weather disruption, air traffic control restrictions), we have more seats available to rebook customers who don't make their connections," an airline spokesman explained.

Other airlines which have dome similar things this summer include Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l), which has capped further sales on its flights out of Heathrow until mid-August, while KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) has been forced to reduce its flights out of Amsterdam Schiphol.

Schiphol, meanwhile, has extended its capacity cap into the autumn at 67,500 passenger departures per day in September and 69,500 in October, 2022, to cope with a continued staffing crunch. The numbers were lower than the 72,000 limit set for August 2022.

Major airports across Europe and the UK have struggled with labour issues as post-lockdown travel rebounded this summer, resulting in long passenger queues, delayed flights, and baggage pile-ups.