The impact of Omicron continues to be felt at Heathrow, as the airport’s January demand was weaker then expected.
Passenger demand, the airport reported today, were 56 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels, as more than 1.3 million travellers cancelled or didn’t book their trips because of the travel restrictions set in December.
“We haven’t seen any increase in passengers as yet as we’re still living with the impacts of Omicron,” the airport’s boss John Holland-Kaye told City A.M. “What we’re seeing is that people who are visiting their friends and relatives, if they’re able to travel, they’re still travelling but very few other people are just now.”
Even though bookings for outbound tourism seem to be recovering – especially for half-term, Easter and summer holidays – inbound and business tourism levels are still low because of Covid levels in the UK and international testing requirements.
“If you are a US tourist or business person, you don’t want to come to the UK, run the risk of catching Covid and then having to stay in the UK for two weeks if you test positive,” Holland-Kaye added. “It’s just too big a risk.”
Following January’s results, the airport decided to maintain its forecast for the year at just over half of pre-pandemic levels, hoping strong demand for summer holidays will offset the weaker January start.