Since 1972, UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, saw the lowest number of passengers for the first time in 2021 and endured substantial financial losses as the COVID-19 pandemic slashed the demand for travelling.
The number of passengers plunged to 19.4 million last year. Britain’s Heathrow airport also suffered a pre-tax loss of 1.79 billion pounds ($2.43 billion) last year, taking total losses to 3.8 billion pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the decline in passengers and higher costs.
According to the Chief Executive of Heathrow airport, John Holland-Kaye, the airport predicted fulfilling its target of more than two-fold passengers to 45.5 million by the end of this year. However, the demand for travel would be “quite peaky” this time and focused on British school holidays.
Furthermore, the number of passengers were still 23% behind the anticipations. Still, he claimed that there were signs of revival in demand, with the airport noticing some of its busiest days in 2 years last week as families went skiing over the vacation.
“Particularly, we think this summer will be quite busy,” he stated in an interview as per sources. “After staycations of two consecutive years due to the pandemic, people want to get some sunshine.”
Moreover, he said that Heathrow was working with airlines to expand its operations and reopen Terminal 4.
Although the elimination of restrictions in the United Kingdom increased outbound tourism, Holland-Kaye claimed inbound tourists and business travel, notably transatlantic routes, remained stifled due to COVID-19 testing requirements in other countries.
He also predicted that the travel would not resume to pre-pandemic levels until all limitations were scraped and passengers were assured that they would not be reinstated.
The airport is awaiting the aviation regulator’s final proposals on how much it can charge the customers for the years 2022-2027 after the agency criticised the airport’s plan to hike the charges by nearly half.
According to Holland-Kaye, if the regulator does not correct “serious mistakes” in its original proposals, there could be a return to the “Heathrow hassle” 15 years ago.
“If we do it right, we can keep on providing seamless journeys to our customers, and the cost of doing so is less than 2% of the ticket price,” he said.