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