Heathrow Airport gears up to meet 394% surge in summer holiday bookings

The UK's busiest airport is creating thousands of vacancies across its vast network

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London's Heathrow Airport on Friday announced a recruitment drive to cater for a surge in holiday bookings, following the relaxation of Covid-19 travel rules.

The UK's busiest airport has been at the forefront of a travel industry campaign to unwind restrictions on foreign travel throughout the pandemic.

Last month, airline chiefs wrote to the government calling for the return of restriction-free travel — at the very least for the fully vaccinated.

This will all but come to pass on at 4am on February 11. From then, fully vaccinated travellers and those under 18 entering the UK will no longer be required to take any form of coronavirus test within 48 hours of landing, as current travel rules require.

But even before this obstacle has been removed, the travel-starved British public had already determined to pack Panama hats, flip-flops and swimsuits for holidays in the sun.

Figures from digital travel agency Skyscanner show bookings for economy return travel from the UK this summer increased by 394 per cent in January 2022 compared with the previous month.

We can’t wait to welcome more passengers back this summer.
Paula Stannett, Heathrow CPO

In preparation for this great British escape to the sun, Heathrow has created thousands of new jobs across its substantial network.

These include apprenticeships and entry-level roles, as well as more technical positions in areas such as runway operations, driving and engineering. Jobs in service and hospitality are also available.

“A job at Heathrow is an opportunity to work at one of the most exciting and dynamic places in the country,” said Heathrow's chief people officer Paula Stannett.

“We can’t wait to welcome more passengers back this summer. To get ready, we’re building our team of dedicated colleagues who love making a difference to our passengers every day.”

“Together you can help us get people back to the things that matter most — visiting family and friends abroad, falling in love with travel again and connecting their business with global markets.”

The rallying call will not bring joy to the ears of climate scientists who believe Covid-19 habits must at least partially endure and the public take fewer flights than they did previously.

But Ms Stannard's focus is ramping up Heathrow's capacity to meet the expected summer demand. On their current trajectory, passenger numbers for 2022 are estimated to reach just over half of 2019’s record-breaking 81 million passengers.

BA announces vegan menus

Many of these customers could well be treated to the plant-based menus British Airways is introducing across its airport lounges.

Heathrow is to be the first airport to get the vegan treatment, with US airports lined up next.

At Heathrow, the airline has installed water stations and is replacing plastic water bottles with glasses. It also aims to remove single-use plastic across its business.

Access to BA lounges is available to its first and business class passengers, plus some other premium categories.

BA has also pledged to make its on-board food and drinks offering “more akin to one that customers would have experienced pre-pandemic”.

Those flying economy on BA short-haul flights will see the return of a free drink and snack, as reported by The National on Monday.

Many would argue the only form of sustainable flying is not flying at all, but BA director of brand and customer experience Tom Stevens on Friday said “sustainability is at the heart of” the UK flag carrier's proposition.

“We want to create an even better British Airways and know that we need to keep making changes to the customer experience with things like alternative menus, reducing plastics and introducing new technology to get us to where we want to be,” he said.

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Updated: February 04, 2022, 4:27 PM