Heathrow ‘will not make a profit in 2022’ as Covid losses exceed £4bn

The west London airport said it will remain loss-making this year.

Neil Lancefield
Tuesday 26 April 2022 08:28
Heathrow Airport has announced it will remain loss-making in 2022 (Steve Parsons/PA)
Heathrow Airport has announced it will remain loss-making in 2022 (Steve Parsons/PA)

Heathrow Airport has announced it will remain loss-making in 2022 as “demand remains very volatile”.

The west London airport said it is not forecasting a return to profit and dividends this year despite an increase in outbound demand for travel.

Its losses during the coronavirus pandemic have now exceeded £4 billion.

Heathrow has updated its 2022 passenger forecast from 45.5 million to 52.8 million, which would represent a return to 65% of pre-pandemic levels.

Some 9.7 million passengers travelled through the airport in the first three months of the year, which was in line with forecasts.

January and February were “much weaker than expected” due to restrictions brought in to tackle the Omicron strain of Covid-19, according to Heathrow.

But passenger numbers increased in March after the “unexpectedly quick removal” of all UK travel restrictions on March 18.

Demand remains very volatile

Heathrow Airport spokesman

A spokesman for the airport said: “Demand remains very volatile and we expect these passenger numbers to drop off significantly after the summer.

“We are already seeing airlines cancelling services into the autumn and the realities of higher fuel costs, lower GDP growth, the war in Ukraine and the ongoing pandemic will drag on demand.

“We are still in a pandemic, with many markets still closed, nearly 80% with testing and vaccination requirements, and another variant of concern could see the return of UK travel restrictions.”

Passengers travelling through several UK airports in recent weeks, including Heathrow, have been forced to wait in long queues, which have been blamed on staff shortages.

Heathrow said more than 95% of passengers got through security within five minutes during the Easter getaway.

It added that it is “planning to continue delivering a good service over a busy summer” by reopening Terminal 4 by July and recruiting more than 1,000 new security officers.

The airport is also “assisting” airlines, ground handlers and retailers fill more than 12,000 vacancies across the airport.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “I want to thank colleagues who worked very hard to ensure the start of 2022 has gone to plan, and I want to reassure passengers that we’re redoubling our efforts to ensure this summer’s journeys go safely and smoothly.”

Meanwhile passengers continue to be hit by flight cancellations caused by staff shortages.

British Airways axed at least 101 short haul flights to or from Heathrow on Tuesday.

The airline said the cancellations were made in advance as part of efforts to improve reliability.

Passengers are being offered alternative flights, often on the same day.

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