UK’s Heathrow Airport flags tepid travel recovery until 2026

Airport records first full quarter of growth since 2019

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

London’s Heathrow Airport said it was still reporting losses and does not expect air traffic to recover completely until at least 2026 even as the travel industry gathered steam on easing restrictions.

London’s Heathrow airport said it saw its first full quarter of passenger growth since 2019 with passenger numbers in the third quarter recovering to 28 per cent and cargo to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, although it has lost £3.4 billion cumulatively since the start of the pandemic.

Heathrow, which last year lost its crown as Europe’s busiest hub to Paris, has suffered heavy losses during the pandemic and has since tried to claw back gains by raising its charges to airlines.

Last week, the UK aviation regulator said Heathrow will not be permitted to raise passenger charges by as much as it had wanted, but airlines opposed the scale of the hike as the hub and carriers battle to recoup pandemic losses.

“The CAA’s (Civil Aviation Authority’s) Initial Proposals do not go far enough to ensure that investors can achieve a fair return,” Heathrow said in a statement on Tuesday.

The airport, which is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp among others, said its shareholders have achieved negative returns in real-term over the last 15 years.

Heathrow, Britain’s biggest airport, said it had £4.1 billion of cash to be able to come through until the market recovers. – Reuters