Heathrow lands £2.9bn loss due to continuing restrictions

The airport continues to call for an extension on monetary support due to demand remaining low 

Financial losses for Heathrow Airport have increased to £2.9bn since the beginning of the pandemic, due to the ongoing impact of restrictions as a result of Covid-19. 

To try and limit the impact, the London hub has reduced cash burn by more than 50%, whilst also cutting operating costs by 35% and capex by 77%.  

Despite the changes to the traffic light system, the airport still believe that expensive testing requirements and travel restrictions are limiting the UK’s recovery. Less than four million travellers passed through the hub in the first half of this year – this number would have originally taken just 18 days to reach in 2019. 

Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport

“The UK is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions,” said John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO. “Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and US vaccinated travellers at the end of July will start to get Britain’s economic recovery off the ground.” 

To help rebuild passenger confidence, Heathrow has introduced a variety of Covid-19 secure technologies, which enabled it to achieve the Skytrax four-star rating. Face coverings and social distancing are also still mandatory. 

In terms of cargo operations, the site still remains 18% lower than pre-pandemic figures. Comparatively, Frankfurt and Schiphol are up by 9%, suggesting the UK is falling behind its European competitors.  

Britain is still losing tourism income from places such as the US and EU due to the government restricting travel even for fully vaccinated passengers outside of the country.  

Whereas trade routes between destinations in Europe and the United States have recovered to almost 50% of pre-pandemic levels, with the UK remaining 92% down.  

The airport has stated that as long as restrictions on travel are in place, the sector should remain to receive financial support, including an extension on the furlough scheme and business rates relief.  

Progression for the decarbonisation of the industry, however, has been supported by the airport as it believes UK ministers are showing leadership within this field. The hub has welcomed the proposed mandate which looks into increasing the usage of sustainable aviation fuel.  

The airlines at the site have also expressed their commitment to the higher use of SAF by 2030.