Heathrow begins preparing for the reopening of air travel

The CEO of Heathrow believes that this week’s budget must support the industry’s recovery if it is to stay afloat

Heathrow has begun planning its steps towards recovery ahead of the lifting of lockdown measures.

By implementing new technologies to aid contactless travel and COVID-19 testing facilities, the airport has managed to facilitate up to 25,000 passengers a day throughout the pandemic.

In 2020, passenger numbers fell to 22.1m – which is more than half of those that travelled in January and February. Overall, revenue fell by 62% to £1.2bn.

Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO, said he is “hugely proud of the way that our colleagues have kept our passengers safe and the UK’s hub airport open for vital supplies throughout” despite having an extremely challenging year.

“We can be hopeful for 2021, with Britain on the cusp of becoming the first country in the world to safely resume international travel and trade at scale.”

The airport boss says that due to the implementation of new government policies, the borders have effectively been closed which has further damaged the industry.

The facility managed to cut gross operating costs by nearly £400m and raised £2.5bn in funding. As a result of this, Heathrow ended the year with £3.9bn, which is enough money to continue operations until 2023.

Heathrow says the UK’s trading network heavily relies on passenger plans from the airport, which carry British exports and inbound supply chain. Until long-haul flights can officially restart, economic recovery may be held back, especially to markets in the US.

“Heathrow will be working with the Global Travel Taskforce to develop a robust plan underpinned by science and backed by industry,” added Holland-Kaye.

Heathrow’s primary focus is still set on decarbonising the aviation industry, after becoming carbon neutral back in 2020.