Heathrow calls for Budget support as it reports £2bn loss

Heathrow airport dived to an annual loss of £2 billion in 2020, which it said “underlines the devastating impact of Covid-19 on aviation”.

It added: “Passenger numbers collapsed to 22.1 million, more than half of whom travelled in January and February.”

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive, said: “2020 has been one of our most challenging years – but despite £2bn of losses and shrinking to passenger levels we haven’t seen since the 70s, I am hugely proud of the way that our colleagues have kept our passengers safe and the UK’s hub airport open for vital supplies throughout.

“We can be hopeful for 2021, with Britain on the cusp of becoming the first country in the world to safely resume international travel and trade at scale.

“Getting aviation moving again will save thousands of jobs and reinvigorate the economy, and Heathrow will be working with the Global Travel Taskforce to develop a robust plan underpinned by science and backed by industry.

“The prime minister will then have the unique opportunity to secure global agreement on a common international standard for travel when he hosts the G7 in June.

“In the meantime, we need next week’s Budget to support aviation’s recovery by extending furlough and providing 100% business rates relief.”

The airport said in its results announcement: “We have had no government support, other than furlough, and have not been given relief from business rates, unlike other airports, retail and hospitality businesses.”

The airport reported overall revenue fell 62% to £1.2 billion, and an adjusted loss before interest and taxes (Ebitda) of £270 million, compared to earnings of £1.9 billion in 2019.

The airport said it took “decisive action to weather the storm” – it cut gross operating costs by nearly £400 million, reduced capital expenditure by £700 million and raised £2.5 billion in funding.

“We ended the year with £3.9 billion of liquidity, enough to see us through until 2023,” it added.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning, Holland-Kaye said he wants future international travel rules without the need for “pages and pages of paperwork” at check-in.

He said it is currently taking 20 minutes per person to check paperwork at check-in.

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