The president of Emirates, which has clashed with London’s Heathrow over the introduction of a capacity cap, said on Monday a disrupted air travel industry would return to equilibrium in 2023 and must “tough it out” until then.
Tim Clark, speaking at an event at the Farnborough Airshow, criticised Heathrow managers for failing to anticipate the travel rebound until it was too late, sparking delays.
Air traffic problems also played a role. “There are many, many late runners,” Clark told aerospace executives.
The comments came after Emirates on Thursday angrily rejected demands by Heathrow to cut capacity and pledged to keep its six daily A380 superjumbo flights running.
In a statement, the airline said, “LHR chose not to act, not to plan, not to invest. Now faced with an “airmageddon” situation due to their incompetence and non-action, they are pushing the entire burden – of costs and the scramble to sort the mess – to airlines and travellers.”
The airline and airport later announced a deal to cap sales on flights out of Heathrow through mid-August.
Clark said Emirates could eventually look at transferring one of its six daily Heathrow flights to London Gatwick as part of an agreement to relieve pressure.
“The way we left it with Heathrow (was that) today we still have our six flights operating. What I needed to do with them was to look at how we can possibly switch over one of the flights into Gatwick.”
Last-minute airport curbs are more complicated for Emirates than many European carriers because of the large variety of destinations served beyond its Dubai hub, meaning passengers coming from across the globe can be affected, Clark said.
“Anybody who does this to us obviously is going to incur our wrath … this is totally unacceptable,” he added.
“We still have to go into battle with regards to some of the draconian measures (that) they are insisting on taking, and I don’t really want it to get any more ugly than it has been.”
Heathrow blames airlines for failing to secure enough ground handlers. Emirates says its own ground-handling unit is ready and blames the problems on central staff shortages at Heathrow.
“Heathrow is well-prepared for this summer. We started recruiting security officers in November last year and will soon have as many people in security as in summer 2019,” an airport spokesperson said.
“The fact that Heathrow’s cap is 50% higher than a similar cap at Amsterdam, our nearest rival, shows how much better we have planned than our competitors.”
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