Copy of 2022-12-12T081303Z_2030932173_RC21NT9FFIVS_RTRMADP_3_HEATHROW-TRAFFIC-1671255064350
BA said anyone already booked to travel will be able to do so as planned, while customers who wish to change their flight dates should be able to do so. Image Credit: REUTERS

London: London’s Heathrow airport is asking airlines to halt ticket sales on inbound flights over Christmas in a bid to minimize disruption during walkouts by immigration officials.

The plan was devised with the cooperation of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., which are based at the hub and intend to comply, Heathrow said Friday in a statement.

Border Force earlier wrote to airports asking them to limit demand to no more than 80 per cent of 2019 levels for arrivals during the protests, Heathrow said. It said the move to halt sales isn’t being unilaterally imposed, having been agreed with BA and Virgin, and remains a request for other operators.

Officials represented by the PCS union are set to strike over pay at Heathrow and other major UK hubs from December 23 to December 31, hitting the first Christmas travel rush since the easing of Covid curbs. Heathrow says that while there’ll most likely be queues for people who don’t qualify to use electronic entry gates, no major disruption is expected.

British workers in sectors spanning the heath service through the rail network to Royal Mail postal deliveries have staged walkouts as they seek pay hikes to match rising prices. The government says allowing steep raises would risk embedding inflation and making the cost of living crisis even worse.

The UK Home Office, which is responsible for Border Force, didn’t immediately comment on Heathrow’s suggestion that it requested the passenger cap.