<p>Slow moving:  with only a fraction of normal passenger traffic using Terminals 2 and 5, queues for arrivals are lasting up to six hours</p>

Slow moving: with only a fraction of normal passenger traffic using Terminals 2 and 5, queues for arrivals are lasting up to six hours

Heathrow saw 91% drop in passengers in the first three months of 2021

Airport’s worst-case scenario is that it will handle only 13 million passengers in 2021, down 84 per cent on 2019 levels

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
@SimonCalder
Thursday 29 April 2021 14:11
comments

Britain’s biggest airport lost 91 per cent of passenger numbers between January and March 2021 compared with a year earlier.

The airport lost £329m in the first three months of 2021, more than £2,500 per minute. Losses since the start of the pandemic total nearly £2.4bn.

Its worst-case scenario is that Heathrow will handle only 13 million passengers in 2021, down 84 per cent on 2109 levels. The most optimistic forecast is for 36 million, a fall of 55 per cent.

John Holland-Kaye, the airport’s chief executive, said: “Covid has devastated the aviation sector and British trade.

“Restarting international travel from 17 May will help to kickstart the economic recovery, allowing exporters to get their goods to market, as well as reuniting families who have been separated for over a year.”

The government says it hopes to allow international leisure travel to resume by 17 May, but will not reveal which countries are on the so-called “green list” of quarantine-free nations until next month.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow is gearing up for the recovery. By acting early to cut costs and protect cash, we have put ourselves in a strong financial position to weather the storm and are ready to welcome back passengers, while keeping them safe.”

Earlier this week, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said Heathrow could increase its passenger charges to offset the losses from the coronavirus crisis – but by far less than the airport had wanted.

Normally Heathrow is heavily reliant on business travel, particularly across the Atlantic, but that market has collapsed.

Instead, British Airways – the biggest airline at Heathrow – will use some of its precious slots to fly to provincial cities in Poland and Romania.

Only two of Heathrow’s four terminals are being used. With only a fraction of normal passenger traffic using Terminals 2 and 5, queues for arrivals are lasting up to six hours.

The airport said: “Border Force’s ability to provide an acceptable service for arriving passengers remains primary concern surrounding the restart and ministers will need to ensure every desk is staffed to avoid unacceptable queues.”

From 17 May, international leisure travel from the UK is expected to resume.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments