Heathrow halves losses, while revenue and passenger numbers take off

London airport says it grew more than any other in the world last year

Terminal 5 at Heathrow. The airport's passenger numbers more than trebled year-on-year in 2022. AFP
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Heathrow Airport is on the path to recovery after pandemic lockdowns, post-pandemic delays and skills shortages.

The airport claims it was the world's fastest-growing last year, with passenger numbers more than trebling from 19 million to 62 million.

Revenue at Heathrow increased by 140 per cent to £2.9 billion ($3.5 billion), compared with 2021.

Heathrow remains in the red

While the airport failed to get back into the black, losses narrowed from £1.3 billion to £684 million.

Bosses said the closure of borders during the pandemic and the delays caused by staff shortages after reopening had "scarred the global aviation sector and it will take some time to fully recover".

The staff and skills shortages that occurred in the wake of the pandemic were largely caused by furlough staff finding other employment and not returning to their previous jobs at Heathrow.

This led to the airport placing a cap on passenger numbers of 100,000 a day, which lasted from July last year to November. The effect was chaotic queues and a deterioration of the relationship between Heathrow and the airlines.

However, on Thursday, Heathrow said more than 25,000 people have started work at the airport in the past 18 months and "resource levels are now close to pre-pandemic level.".

"The focus is now on improving skills, experience and building resilience," an airport representative said.

The last few years have been turbulent for the west London airport and global aviation in general.

Last year, Heathrow regained its title as western Europe's busiest airport, then three weeks ago, its chief executive announced his resignation.

John Holland-Kaye will leave this year but is staying on until his successor starts.

John Holland-Kaye is standing down as Heathrow chief executive but says his replacement 'will take on a fantastic team'. AFP

He said: “2022 may have been a year of recovery, but 2023 is shaping up to be a year of renewal for Heathrow.

"Our teams have already delivered a successful Christmas and half-term getaway and with a great investment plan in place, we are determined to once again rank in the top 10 airports for service.

"I couldn’t be prouder of how far Team Heathrow has come in my nine years as CEO — from transforming customer service, to securing parliamentary approval for expansion to surviving two years of border closures and rebuilding the business.

"My successor will take on a fantastic team who are making Heathrow a world-leading hub that Britain can be proud of.”

Updated: February 23, 2023, 11:19 AM