London Heathrow Airport (LHR) in the UK will remove the passenger cap on October 30, 2022.
Despite serving 18 million passengers during the summer of 2022, the company’s underlying losses have increased to £400m (US$461m) in 2022 as regulated income failed to cover costs, adding to the £4bn (US$4.6bn) of the previous two years. As a result, it is not forecasting any dividends this year. LHR also forecasted that total passenger numbers for 2022 will reach 60 to 62 million, which is approximately 25% fewer than in 2019. The global economic crisis, war in Ukraine and the impact of Covid-19 have led LHR to conclude that it is unlikely to return to the levels of demand seen before the pandemic for several years, except at peak times.
Heathrow has stated that its priority is to build back the airport ecosystem to meet demand at peak times. To do so, it has called on businesses across the airport to recruit and train up to 25,000 security-cleared people. It has established a recruitment taskforce to help fill vacancies, working with the UK government on a review of airline ground handling and appointing a senior operational executive to invest in joint working.
The airport is reportedly working with airlines to agree on a mechanism that, if needed, would align supply and demand on a small number of peak days in the lead-up to Christmas. This is intended to encourage demand into less busy periods, protecting the heavier peaks and avoiding flight cancellations due to resource pressures.
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow, said, “We can be proud that everyone at Heathrow pulled together to serve consumers this summer, ensuring 18 million people got away on their journeys – more than any other airport in Europe – with the vast majority experiencing good service. We have lifted the summer cap and are working with airlines and their ground handlers to get back to full capacity at peak times as soon as possible. As we look to the future, we encourage the CAA to think again about stimulating the long-term investment that will deliver the smooth and predictable journeys consumers value most, rather than focusing on short-term pricing, which we have seen only benefits airline profits.”