Heathrow Airport reports first increase in passenger numbers after tough 18 months

The UK’s largest airport has reported rising travel demand in the first three months of passenger growth since the pandemic began – but it is still operating at less than half of 2019 levels.

Heathrow Airport had its first full quarter of passenger growth since 2019 as travel restrictions were relaxed and testing requirements simplified. Passenger numbers rebounded to 28 percent and freight to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter of the year, with traffic not expected to fully recover until at least 2026.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “It’s been a definitely tough 18 months but we’re starting to see the recovery.

“Now all we have to do is see the stability of the travel rules so that people are confident about what we need to do and the airlines can integrate this into their systems.

“We’re hiring people right now to make sure we can meet the demand across the airport that is starting to come through.

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“We’re still at around 40 to 45 percent of the level even on the busiest days of 2019. So we’re all working together to make sure we can provide fantastic service to the people of Heathrow. “

Mr Holland-Kaye added, “We are on the cusp of a recovery that will unleash a backlog, create new quality jobs and bring UK trade back to life – but it risks a hard landing if it is not secured in the long run is.

“To do this, we must continue to focus on the global vaccination program so that the borders can be reopened without testing.”

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