Heathrow Airport will lift the cap on passenger numbers this month after it limited travellers to curb disruption.
Flight cancellations and delays caused chaos for passengers using the airport this summer because of a labour shortage in areas including security, ground staff and baggage handling.
In July the airport responded by capping the number of passengers departing their terminals to 100,000 a day.
Latest data shows that Heathrow is operating at about 80 per cent of capacity compared with the summer of 2019, before the Covid pandemic.
The cap was due to expire on September 11 but remained in place and industry officials have now been told it will end later this month, The Wall Street Journal reported. The official summer flying season ends on October 29.
A spokesman for Heathrow said: “We took necessary action in July to introduce a temporary capacity cap which has since been extended through to the end of October.
“This cap resulted in fewer last-minute cancellations, better punctuality and shorter waits for bags.”
The spokesman said that Heathrow had always intended to remove the cap as quickly as possible, but only if service levels were not eroded.
At the time the cap was introduced, John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, said: “Over the past few weeks, as departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded 100,000 a day, we have started to see periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable.”
Holland-Kaye said that problems had included “long queue times, delays for passengers requiring assistance, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late, low punctuality and last-minute cancellations”.
Even though winter is less busy than summer at the airport, past data shows that daily passenger numbers could still exceed the current cap.
In November 2019, the average number of daily departing passengers from Heathrow was 104,000 and in December the figure rose to 108,000.
Airlines using Heathrow have already reduced their flying schedules over the next six months. BA, the airport’s largest airline, is cutting 10,000 flights from the end of this month until the beginning of April.