Up to 4,000 Gatwick flights will be cancelled over the peak summer months in a bid to avoid more chaos.
The airport today announced a daily flight cap in July and August to avoid the cancellations misery suffered by tens of thousands of tourists recently.
The measure, unlikely to brought in at other UK airports, comes after No10 and regulators told airlines to ensure their summer timetables were “deliverable”.
Gatwick flights will be limited to 825 a day in July, rising to 850 in August.
This is down from an expected 900 flights on peak days over the two months.
Officials are working with airlines to determine which trips will be cancelled.
Budget carrier EasyJet, the biggest airline at Gatwick, said it would try to let passengers know over the coming days.
It added: “Given the high frequencies of our services to and from Gatwick, we expect to be able to reaccommodate the majority of customers should their flight be affected by the cap.”
But rival Ryanair said: “We do not have any plans to cancel flights from Gatwick.”
The Irish carrier claimed it operated a full schedule of flights last month with no cancellations due to staffing shortages. British Airways had already announced plans to cancel 16,500 flights – 10% of its schedule – over the spring and summer, with the aim of giving fliers warning.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, said: “By taking decisive action now, we aim to help the ground handlers, and also our airlines, to better match their flying programmes with resources.”
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, added the reductions in flights may provide a more reliable service and fewer last-minute cancellations.
But he said airlines should have been consulted and Gatwick must provide clarity on which flights are being cut. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport announced a cap on Thursday but other UK airports are unlikely to follow suit.
Manchester Airports Group, which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted, and East Midlands, said it has no plans to limit capacity at present.
That is despite Manchester Airport facing long queues and fliers missing flights.
Heathrow Airport said it had been working with airlines to determine available capacity at various points throughout the day.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport said it had not been experiencing any of the disruptions, queues, delays and cancellations seen elsewhere.
It came as a Tory minister suggested one way to tackle the airport chaos was for workers to do longer hours.
Business minister Paul Scully told Sky News: “I’m not talking about going out forcing people to do anything, but we just want to make sure that they’re matched up properly so that it’s just that those people who can work longer – that want to work longer – can do.”
Yet it comes amid reports of some airport and airline workers already working long hours in a bid to avert any more disruption.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect union, said: “Suggestions that more overtime can provide the solution are wide of the mark.
“Many staff are already doing large amounts of overtime, and in safety critical roles there are strict limits on the number of hours that can be worked.”
Mr Clancy claimed the crisis had been caused by making too many staff redundant after the aviation was rocked by the Covid pandemic travel curbs.
Downing Street welcomed Gatwick reducing flights “so they can realistically deliver over the summer”.
A No 10 spokesman said: “We want everybody to be able to travel freely and easily, which is why we continue to encourage industry to step up their recruitment so they can put enough flights for families who are looking forward to well-deserved holidays after the pandemic.
“We’ve asked the industry to develop schedules so they can realistically deliver over the summer so we obviously welcome this move and it will provide passengers certainty ahead of planned getaways later this year.”