<p>Heathrow has released its latest results </p>

Heathrow has released its latest results

Heathrow has lost £136 per passenger so far this year – but hopes for a recovery

Passenger numbers are not expected to recover until 2026 at the earliest

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 26 October 2021 09:08

The woes of Britain’s biggest airport have continued into autumn. Between January and September Heathrow lost £1.38bn before tax.

With just 10.2 million arrivals and departures, compared with over 60 million at this stage in 2019, that represents a loss of £136 for each passenger handled.

Heathrow’s management says there is evidence of “strong pent-up demand as travel restrictions ease”. On Monday night the White House revealed the conditions for opening up travel from the UK from 8 November.

But traffic is not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2026 at the earliest.

Announcing the figures, the chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, was optimistic.

“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,” he said.

“But it risks a hard landing unless secured for the long-haul. To do that, we need continued focus on the global vaccination programme so that borders can reopen without testing.

“The decision to require fully vaccinated passengers to take private lateral flow tests at an additional cost remains an unnecessary barrier to travel, which keeps the UK out of step with the EU.”

At present the UK has simultaneously the highest coronavirus infection rates in western Europe and some of the toughest restrictions for vaccinated travellers, with a test required after touchdown and hotel quarantine for arrivals from seven Latin American nations.

Measures were eased in July, with self-isolation removed for vaccinated arrivals from a number of countries – but not, initially, France.

Since then passenger numbers have recovered to 28 per cent of 2019 levels. Heathrow Terminal 4 has effectively been mothballed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously Heathrow had been the busiest airport in Europe for decades, but the west London hub continues to underperform its Continental rivals.

Through the summer, Heathrow failed even to make the European top 10 – finishing behind behind both Palma de Mallorca and the secondary Paris airport, Orly.

Istanbul, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle are now dominant as the key hubs in Europe.

In its results statement, Heathrow outlined imminent changes in its operations: “As passenger numbers start to increase, some social distancing measures will be gradually removed in a phased, controlled manner and following appropriate risk assessments; for example, removing the one-way system and seat restrictions to ensure we provide enough seating for our passengers.

“Face coverings and hygiene measures, however, will remain in place.”

Starting on Monday1 November, Heathrow will introduce a £5 drop-off fee for vehicles at its terminals. The airport said: “Heathrow is one of the last UK airports to introduce such a charge, as similar access charges are already in place across nine out of the 10 largest UK airports.

“The charge is designed to incentivise the use of public transport wherever possible when accessing Heathrow’s terminals.”

In a reference to long queues for UK Border Force, the airport said: “We are asking government to ensure any issues at the border are minimised, managed and adequately resourced.”

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