Heathrow hits back at Ryanair in air travel row

Thousands of passengers have been affected by recent travel disruptions

The Heathrow Airport boss has hit back at Ryanair, saying the airline was wrong to blame airports for recent travel disruptions.

John Holland-Kaye told the BBC it was up to airlines, not airports, to provide ground handling staff.

On Monday, a Ryanair executive criticized the airports for not recruiting enough staff.

Staff shortages at airports have led to major disruptions and cancellations in recent months.

Ground handling personnel are responsible for a range of services at airports, including the loading and unloading of baggage.

The row comes as the UK’s biggest airport reported another loss in the first half of the year, even though people were traveling more for business and holidays.

Heathrow reported a pre-tax loss of £321million in the six months to the end of June.

Airports and airlines, which have cut jobs during Covid shutdowns, have struggled to recruit workers as travel demand has returned.

On Monday, Ryanair’s chief financial officer said airports had not recruited enough staff to cope with the rebound in traveler numbers, saying they “had a job to do”.

Neil Sorahan said ‘various governments’ and airports should be held accountable for ‘not properly staffing’.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Holland-Kaye called the comments “bizarre”.

He added: “Airports don’t provide ground handling, the airline itself does. So it’s like accusing us of not having enough pilots.”

Mr Holland-Kaye said the summer getaway got off to a good start, but added that a shortage of airline ground handling staff was a constraint on its capacity.

He added that punctuality had improved since the introduction of a daily passenger cap.

Earlier this month, Heathrow announced it was limiting the number of passengers who can depart each day to 100,000 during the peak summer months.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “We have seen a significant improvement in performance since its inception. On-time performance has improved, baggage performance has improved, and it shows that the tough decisions we have made two weeks ago have an impact so passengers can travel with confidence to Heathrow this summer.”