Heathrow Airport Has Lost £3.4 Billion Due To The Pandemic

Heathrow Airport today revealed that it had lost £3.4 billion ($4.68 billion) since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline released the figure as part of its Q3 results, published today, reflecting the three-month period from July to September. Despite this, the airport’s CEO is confident that recovery is close.

London Heathrow, COVID-19, Loss
Heathrow Airport has lost £3.4 billion since the start of the pandemic. Photo: David Parry/PA Wire via Heathrow Airport

Apart from a few niche areas such as aircraft painting and aircraft storage, no business has enjoyed the pandemic. Across the European aviation industry, we’ve seen losses from airports, airlines, and other parties, primarily driven by passenger demand essentially drying up for around a year. The picture is rapidly improving in the parts of the world that are more open now, such as the US.

£3.4 billion lost

£3.4 billion isn’t an insignificant amount of money. It is also the amount of money that Heathrow Airport has lost since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airport remained by far the busiest in the country at the height of the crisis, but a lack of passengers meant a lack of aircraft movements. This, in turn, led to a lack of income for the airport.

While the figure seems extraordinarily high, Heathrow Airport isn’t too worried about the future yet. The airport still has £4.1 billion ($5,65 billion) worth of cash on hand. With this, the airport says it has the financial strength to weather the storm until the market recovers.

London Heathrow, COVID-19, Loss
The airport still has £4.1 billion of cash. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Recovery a long way off

Unfortunately for London Heathrow Airport, it seems as though a full recovery is still a long way off. During the third quarter of the year, the airport handled just 28% of the passengers that it did in the same period of 2019. The UK’s airports are significantly behind their EU counterparts, given the country’s costly travel restrictions, which just ended recently. For example, in Q3 2021, Frankfurt Airport handled 45% of its Q3 2019 passengers.

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Although it still remains impacted by a drop in belly space on passenger aircraft, things are going significantly better for Heathrow’s cargo capacity. Cargo now stands at 90% of pre-pandemic levels. London Heathrow Airport doesn’t expect traffic to fully recover until 2026 as things currently stand. This is one of the furthest recovery predictions that we’ve seen so far.

London Heathrow, COVID-19, Loss
Heathrow doesn’t see a full recovery returning until 2026. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Commenting on the results, the airport’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said,

“We are on the cusp of a recovery which will unleash pent-up demand, create new quality jobs and see Britain’s trade roar back to life – but it risks a hard landing unless secured for the long-haul. To do that, we need continued focus on the global vaccination programme so that borders can reopen without testing.”

Have you flown through Heathrow since the start of the pandemic? Where did you come from, where did you go? Let us know in the comments below!