Heathrow airport is growing at half the rate of its French rival Charles de Gaulle, which at this rate will replace it as Europe’s leading hub airport within two years.
Despite a record start to 2020, with over 6m passengers passing through the airport in January, Heathrow warned that unless it upped its growth rate it would soon be surpassed by European rivals.
UK routes showed the biggest increase in passengers, growing 10.2 per cent due to the popularity of flights to Newquay and Guernsey.
Flights to the Middle East saw passenger numbers grow 7.6 per cent, while flights to North America were up 4.7 per cent.
Heathrow remains the top market for cargo growth, with over 115,000 metric tons passing through the airport during the first month of the year.
Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “If we are to be a truly global Britain, we need to be better connected to global markets than our rivals in Europe.
“It would be an economic disaster for the country to fall behind, just as we leave the EU. Heathrow’s new runway will make the UK a winner, connecting all of Britain to global growth and that’s why we need to get on with delivering it.”
If it is to continue to grow, the airport must do so while following the UK sustainable aviation coalition’s roadmap to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Last year Heathrow welcomed 80.9m passengers, a new record, making it a ninth consecutive year of traffic growth for the airport.
Earlier this month more doubt was thrown on the long-awaited third runway project after Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial said it was mulling selling its stake in Heathrow unless the Civil Aviation Authority allowed it to make fair returns from its investment.