In Q3, Heathrow airport experienced its first full quarter of passenger growth since 2019, underscoring strong pent-up demand as travel restrictions eased and testing requirements were simplified. Passenger numbers in the third quarter recovered to 28%, and cargo to 90% of pre-pandemic levels. However, traffic is not expected to fully recover until at least 2026.
Some £3.4bn in total losses since the start of pandemic underscore long road ahead, says Heathrow, pointing to its very high fixed costs. Despite over 30% reduction in operating costs, Heathrow states that it has lost £3.4bn cumulatively since the start of the pandemic and remains loss making today. Heathrow adds however that the company has the financial strength, with £4.1bn of cash, to be able to come through until the market recovers.
“We are on the cusp of a recovery which will unleash pent-up demand, create new quality jobs and see Britain’s trade roar back to life – but it risks a hard landing unless secured for the long-haul,” says John Holland-Kaye , Heathrow CEO. “To do that, we need continued focus on the global vaccination programme so that borders can reopen without testing; we need a fair financial settlement from the CAA to sustain service and resilience after 15 years of negative real returns for investors; and we need a progressively increasing global mandate for Sustainable Aviation Fuels so that we can protect the benefits of aviation in a world without carbon.”