LONDON - Emirates airline said on Thursday it had rejected demands by London's Heathrow Airport to cut capacity despite being threatened with legal action, and said it intended to continue operating its six daily flights to Britain's busiest airport.
Heathrow this week airlines to stop selling tickets for summer flights, limiting the number of daily passengers flying the hub to 100,000 to ease pressure on operations that have been unable to keep up with demand.
Emirates, owned by the government of Dubai, said Heathrow had given the airline 36 hours from Wednesday to reduce capacity on its six daily flights, which are operated with the Airbus A380.
'Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non - compliance', the airline said.
'Until further notice, Emirates plans to operate as scheduled to and from (Heathrow)', it said in the statement.
Emirates, one of the world's biggest long - haul airlines, relies on international flights for its operations. Heathrow is one of the world's most important hubs, while Emirates has no domestic market to cushion from a drop in international traffic.
A Heathrow spokesperson said it had been forced into imposing restrictions after months of consultations with airlines failed to deliver a solution, citing staff shortages as the main issue.
'We had no choice but to take the difficult decision to impose a capacity cap designed to give passengers a better, more reliable journey and to keep everyone working at the airport safe'.
'It would be disappointing if instead of working together, any airline would want to put profit ahead a sade and reliable passenger journey', the spokesperson added.
Other airlines, such as Aer Lingus, have said they were awaiting guidance from Heathrow management on how capacity limits would impact them, while some such as Etihad Airways been forced to reschedule flights at short notice.
Global airline association IATA has slammed the cuts.
Emirates said tens of thousands of passengers would be affected if the airline did reduce capacity and that it was impossible to rebook travelers as upcoming flights were full.
A single Emirates A380s can carry more than 600 passengers.