UK's Heathrow Airport flags tepid travel recovery until 2026

Reuters

Posted at Oct 26 2021 03:14 PM

People sit amongst socially-distanced seating signs at Heathrow Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, May 10, 2020. Toby Melville, Reuters file photo
People sit amongst socially-distanced seating signs at Heathrow Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, May 10, 2020. Toby Melville, Reuters file photo

Britain's Heathrow Airport Ltd said on Tuesday it was still reporting losses and does not expect air traffic to recover completely until at least 2026 even as the travel industry gathered steam in the third quarter on easing restrictions.

The London airport said passenger numbers in the third quarter recovered to 28 percent and cargo to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, although it has lost 3.4 billion pounds ($4.68 billion) cumulatively since the start of the pandemic.

Heathrow, which last year lost its crown as Europe's busiest hub to Paris, has suffered heavy losses during the pandemic and has since tried to claw back gains by raising its charges to airlines.

Last week, the UK aviation regulator said Heathrow will not be permitted to raise passenger charges by as much as it had wanted, but airlines opposed the scale of the hike as the hub and carriers battle to recoup pandemic losses.

"The CAA's (Civil Aviation Authority's) Initial Proposals do not go far enough to ensure that investors can achieve a fair return," Heathrow said in a statement on Tuesday.

The airport, which is owned by Spain's Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp among others, said its shareholders have achieved negative returns in real-term over the last 15 years.

Heathrow, Britain's biggest airport, said it had 4.1 billion pounds of cash to be able to come through until the market recovers.