Heathrow’s pandemic losses hit £2.9bn

Fewer than four million passengers travelled through the west London airport in the first six months of the year.

Neil Lancefield
Monday 26 July 2021 08:17
Heathrow has announced that its cumulative losses from the Covid-19 pandemic have hit £2.9bn (Steve Parsons/PA)
Heathrow has announced that its cumulative losses from the Covid-19 pandemic have hit £2.9bn (Steve Parsons/PA)

Heathrow has announced that its cumulative losses from the Covid-19 pandemic have hit £2.9 billion.

Fewer than four million passengers travelled through the west London airport in the first half of the year.

It took just 18 days to reach that total in 2019.

The airport warned that its passenger numbers could be lower this year than in 2020.

Some 22.1 million passengers used the airport in 2020, with more than half of those travelling in January and February, before the virus crisis led to a collapse in demand.

Heathrow described recent changes to the quarantine and testing requirements for people arriving in the UK as “encouraging”, but warned that the rules are “holding back the UK’s economic recovery”.

The airport’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye said: “The UK is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic, but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions.

“Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and US vaccinated travellers at the end of July will start to get Britain’s economic recovery off the ground.”

In an interview on Times Radio, he asked: “Where is the vaccine dividend?”

He noted that EU countries have opened up for travel between each other and from the US.

The Department for Transport has committed to holding a formal review of the traffic light system “no later” than Saturday.

Travellers faced long queues at Heathrow Airport on Saturday (Fiona Brett/PA)

Asked about some arriving passengers facing two-hour queues over the weekend, Mr Holland-Kaye said they were “caught out by a combination of Border Force officers being pinged and some of the e-gates not working”.

He went on: “Most people going through the border at Heathrow are having a very good experience, they’re getting through in a few minutes. That is the norm.

“I’d just apologise to those passengers who were caught up on Saturday.”

A vast number of people are being “pinged” as Covid contacts by the NHS app, and told to self-isolate.

Heathrow’s revenue dropped from £712 million in the first six months of 2020 to £348 million in the opening half of this year.

Meanwhile, pre-tax loss widened 18% to a little over £1 billion.