Heathrow Airport says that passenger numbers are down by 50 per cent

Passenger figures still low Credit: Heathrow Airport

HEATHROW Airport says that passenger numbers are down by 50 per cent when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Although there are signs that more people are thinking of using the UK’s busiest hub airport in the future, only 2.8 million passengers were recorded in February which was also 15 per cent below forecast.

It noted that outbound leisure demand is recovering strongly as countries are starting to remove travel restrictions however, demand from inbound leisure and business travel remains suppressed by the testing and quarantine requirements that are still in place in nearly two-thirds of the markets it serves.

While the management of the airport hopes that these requirements will be removed, they now face headwinds from higher fuel prices, longer flight times to destinations impacted by airspace closures, concerns from US travellers over war in Europe and the likelihood of new “Variants of Concern”, which together create huge uncertainty over the passenger forecasts this year.

Based on the strength of outbound leisure bookings being reported by airlines, peak days in the summer holidays could be very busy, at up to 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels but this is likely to feel even busier at check in because of the additional pre-departure checks.

If correct, this is higher than current airline, handler and airport capacity, so they say that they are putting passengers first by gearing up across the airport for peak demand, working with airlines to reduce check in times and recruiting 12,000 new staff

In addition, Terminal 4 will be reopened before July but for incoming passenger there is a fear over Border Force’s ability to scale up to meet demand.

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