Holland-Kaye: “COVID has devastated the aviation sector”

Heathrow reveals a loss of more than £300m from Q1, as less than two million passengers used the facility

London Heathrow believes restarting the aviation sector is vital for the recovery of the UK economy, as its latest figures show harsh losses in the first quarter of 2021.

Due to the closure of national borders, overall Covid-19 losses increased to almost £2.4bn, with the airport recording a further £329m decline between January and March. Only 1.7 million passengers passed through the hub; a 91% decrease compared with 2019.

Cargo volumes have also depleted by 23% compared with two years ago. This highlights how the lack of flights impacts global trade from the UK.

London Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport 

According to the airport, demand for travel is still very strong. However, due to the uncertainty of government policies, the passenger forecast for the year has reduced to a range between 13 and 36 million – previously 81 million in 2019.

John Holand-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, said: “These results show how COVID has devastated the aviation sector and British trade. Restarting international travel from May 17 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. 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. This would not be possible without the energy and commitment of my colleagues across Heathrow and I am very proud of what they have achieved.”

As the vaccination programme continues, restarting the travel industry to markets such as the US is vital for the UK’s economic recovery.

In order to continue in a financially resilient position, cash burn has been reduced by 50%, with stringent measures increasing liquidity by 41% to £4.5bn since the beginning of the pandemic.

Reaching a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) mandate of 10% by 2030 is also a top priority for the airport, as climate change remains at the forefront of the industry’s challenges.

The London hub has urged that more action needs to be taken by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to protect consumers and help restore confidence.