Heathrow Airport’s pandemic losses top £4bn

Passenger numbers are up, but London’s Heathrow Airport will still not make a profit this year.

Revenue for the UK’s biggest airport in the first quarter of 2022 climbed to £516m and adjusted EBITDA turned positive to reach £273m. However, its total pandemic losses have now topped £4.0bn and the airport is not forecasting a return to profit and dividends in 2022.

Heathrow said it is currently seeing a “temporary increase” in demand after pandemic restrictions on travel were lifted, with 9.7 million passengers passing through the airport in the first quarter of 2022.

January and February were weaker than expected due to Omicron-related travel restrictions, but demand grew in March after the unexpectedly quick removal of all UK travel restrictions.

The airport has increased its 2022 passenger forecast from 45.5 million to 52.8 million, which represents a return to 65% of pre-pandemic traffic.

However, demand remains “very volatile” and passenger numbers are expected to drop off significantly after the summer.

“We are already seeing airlines cancelling services into the autumn and the realities of higher fuel costs, lower GDP growth, the war in Ukraine and the ongoing pandemic will drag on demand,” the airport said in a statement.

“We are still in a pandemic with many markets still closed, nearly 80% with testing and vaccination requirements, and another variant of concern could see the return of UK travel restrictions.”