Heathrow said today Covid-related headwinds have continued to stunt its traffic growth, as passenger numbers last month remained 15 per cent below forecast.
February passenger numbers totalled 2.8 million, 50 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels, as inbound and business travel remain hindered by testing and quarantine regimes in two-thirds of the markets the airport serves.
“Aviation’s recovery remains overshadowed by war and Covid uncertainty,” said the hub’s boss John Holland-Kaye.
On top of Covid, the airport said war-related headwinds such as rocketing fuel prices and airspace closure were casting a shadow of uncertainty over the market’s recovery this year.
Despite the ongoing situation, Heathrow said peak days in the summer holidays could see numbers reach 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, prompting the airport to gear up by recruiting 12,000 new people and reopening terminal 4.
“We need to ensure we are geared up to meet peak potential demand this summer and are relying on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to make a fair financial settlement that incentivises investment to maintain passenger service and encourages airlines and Heathrow to work together to grow passenger numbers,” Holland-Kaye added.
The CAA has been developing the regulatory framework for Heathrow’s next financial period for the last few months, focusing specifically on setting a final price cap on its airport charges.