Among them were a Durban couple living in England who wanted to return home to get married, but were prevented from boarding in London.

London - The owner of Heathrow airport has said Britain must expand its airport capacity or lose out to rivals, as it announced that a record 70 million passengers used the London air hub in 2012.

Including interest payments on debt and one-off items, Heathrow reported a net loss of 40.9 billion pounds in 2012, compared with a loss of 191.5 million pounds a year earlier.

The airport saw an eight percent rise in revenue to 2.46 billion pounds for the year of the London Olympics.

There were 471,341 flights to and from Heathrow in 2012, just below its absolute capacity of 480,000.

Owner Heathrow - formerly BAA - said that airport capacity constraints had “potential long term consequences for UK trade, jobs and economic growth.” - Sapa-AP