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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Airlines Slash Heathrow Flights

LONDON -- Airlines will cut 20 percent of flights departing from London's Heathrow Airport on Monday, following a directive by the airport's owner amid a growing dispute over how to handle tougher security measures.

Airport operator BAA said Sunday that carriers had to cut departures further this week to cope with congestion caused by tightened security, or else it might ban them from using the airport.

The directive followed a 30 percent reduction in flights on Sunday as airlines struggled with tight security at British airports following what police said was a foiled plot to blow up transatlantic airliners.

British Airways said it was complying with the directive and expected to cut 20 percent of its flights from Heathrow on Monday. This included 39 of 202 short-haul flights and five of 76 long-haul flights.

The airline said it expected to operate a full European and long-haul schedule from London Gatwick but some domestic flights would be affected.

Virgin Atlantic criticized the directive, saying it favored airlines like British Airways, which could cut less-lucrative short flights and keep most of its long-haul operations running.

"There is no level playing field," a Virgin spokesman said.

Virgin, which operates only long-haul flights, also called on BAA to let it operate some flights from London's other airports such as Gatwick. Virgin plans to cancel three flights on Monday.

The directive at Heathrow applies to airlines with four or more flights per day from the airport.

BAA threatened to deny airlines the use of airport facilities if they did not comply, according to a memo that a source familiar with the situation said was sent by the airport's chief executive, Tony Douglas, to airlines over the weekend.