Heathrow upgrades annual passenger forecast despite strike warnings

Heathrow has upgraded its annual passenger forecast to 82.4 million ahead of a predicted record summer.

The London hub insisted that it had a “robust” operating plan in place to keep the airport running smoothly, even if “unnecessary industrial action” materialises.

Heathrow forecast the busiest summer getaway on record after seeing record throughput of 18.5 million passengers in the first quarter, up by almost 10% year-on-year.

This resulted in a pre-tax profit of £83 million for the three months to March 31 against a loss of £139 million in the same period last year.

“The strong performance during what is traditionally a quieter period of the year was in part driven by growth on key business routes like Delhi and Mumbai, strong North American traffic and surging East Asian demand growing 40% versus Q1 2023,” Heathrow said. 

A £1 billion next-generation security programme “continues apace” as we 146 lanes across the airport are installed.

Work has also started to replace the Terminal 2 baggage system.

A “once-in-a-decade” job to resurface both runways without impacting the airport’s operating day is to begin soon.

“These improvements will help enhance the service and resilience of the UK’s hub airport,” Heathrow added.

However, airport bosses warned that current government policy is curtailing the UK’s growth and competitiveness.

“Ministers should rethink anti-growth policies like the ‘tourist tax’ that discourage international visitors from spending in the UK; and unnecessary travel visas for transiting passengers that risk the UK’s global connectivity and Heathrow’s hub status. 

“A supportive policy environment for aviation would deliver a much-needed economic boost by encouraging people to visit, spend and do business here in the UK.”

Heathrow chief financial officer Javier Echave did not rule out reviving plans for a third runway during an interview on with the BBC.

In a statement issued by the airport, he said: “It has been a successful start to the year thanks to colleagues delivering a consistent, reliable service to our passengers.”

Echave will become chief operating officer on April 26 and Ross Baker will become chief customer officer on May 1 as part of a streamlining of roles and accountabilities across the executive team.

“As I close the chapter on eight years as CFO, I’m proud that Heathrow is on a strong financial footing with a clear flightpath ahead,” Echave added. 

“On the horizon is Heathrow’s busiest summer yet with more passengers and destinations served than ever before. We’re ready to continue delivering.”

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