Wednesday 26 February 2020 8:20 am

Heathrow soars to ninth year of growth as third runway decision looms

Heathrow Airport posted its ninth consecutive year of passenger growth as stakeholders gear up for tomorrow’s judicial review decision on whether the third runway expansion project can go ahead.

The transport hub also said that though it was closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak, it does “not expect [it] to have a material negative impact on [its] financial results”.

Read more: Heathrow growing at half the rate of Charles de Gaulle airport

The figures

The UK’s largest airport welcomed a record 80.9m passengers through its gates in 2019, a one per cent increase on the year before, with 82 per cent of these rating the airport “excellent” or “very good”.

Revenue climbed 3.4 per cent to £3.1bn as demand to fly increased, while earnings rose 4.6 per cent to £1.9bn.

Heathrow also consolidated its position as the UK’s largest port, with 40 per cent of all UK exports now passing through the west London site.

The airport received an extra £856m in investment in 2019, but said that there was £14bn more waiting in the wings from private investors if the expansion got the go-ahead.

Why it’s interesting

Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye used the results to call for the expansion project to go ahead, saying the project would be the catalyst to the UK’s success after Brexit.

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He warned that if the expansion did not go ahead, Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport would overtake Heathrow as Europe’s biggest transport hub within the next two years.

The expansion project is facing complaints lodged by five different parties, with a decision scheduled for tomorrow.

The challenges, which come from a combination of local authorities, environmental groups, and a campaign for an alternative scheme, claim that the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.

Heathrow last week announced aims to operate zero-carbon infrastructure by the mid-2030s, having achieved zero-carbon status in January this year.

The airport said it “was clear that unless the expansion meets strict environmental targets, no additional capacity can or will be used”.

The expansion is expected to cost £14bn and is slated to be completed by 2028-29.

Read more: Heathrow growing at half the rate of Charles de Gaulle airport

What Heathrow said

Holland-Kaye said: “Within two years, Charles de Gaulle will overtake Heathrow as the biggest airport in Europe. Heathrow’s new runway is ready to turn ‘global Britain’ into more than just a campaign slogan.

“It’s the key to the UK’s success after Brexit and will ensure we stay ahead of our European rivals. Expansion will be built within legally-binding environmental targets, creating lower airfares for passengers, connecting every corner of Britain to global growth and all at no cost to the taxpayer. It’s time to get on with it.”