Heathrow continues to post losses despite rising passenger numbers

Heathrow airport has warned that it continues to post losses, even as it remains Europe’s busiest airport, handling almost 17 million passengers in the first three months of the year.

The airport also said passengers could “travel as normal” during the peak period of getaways around the coronation of King Carlos III, which will take place on May 6, despite a planned new strike by security staff. .

Publishing its financial results for the first three months of the year, the airport said it had yet to return to profit after the coronavirus pandemic and reported an adjusted pre-tax loss of £139m for the first quarter. It does not anticipate paying any dividend to shareholders in 2023.

Heathrow blames the regulator for the level at which it has set its annual price cap on how much it can charge airlines for using the airport to prevent increased profits.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for setting the amount that Heathrow can charge each airline customer. The current level for 2023 means the maximum average passenger fare remains at £31.57 this year. However, it will drop to £25.43 in 2024 and will remain broadly stable until the end of 2026.

Heathrow called this limit “too low” and said it had appealed against the CAA’s deal with competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority.

The CAA has previously said its decision could help lower passenger fares for years to come.

Some 1,400 Heathrow security officers, who are members of the Unite union, plan a further eight-day strike in May over a pay dispute, following a strike at Easter.

Unite has previously said the strike would cause “unavoidable disruption and delay” at a time when people were expected to travel to the UK.

Heathrow said it did not believe the strike would have an impact on passengers traveling through the airport and said customers would be able to leave as normal around the coronation and May mid-term holidays.

The airport said it had enjoyed a “good performance” during the previous school semester and the Easter holidays.

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As passengers return to air travel after the pandemic, Heathrow said it was offering more flights to certain destinations, including Chinese cities, after the country reopened its borders post-Covid.

Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the year had “started off strong.” However, he is calling on the government to make the UK more attractive to foreign visitors compared to the EU by reversing a decision to remove duty-free shopping for tourists, which he called the “tourist tax”. “.

“We are building our network of routes to connect the whole of Great Britain with the growing markets of the world; we now need the government to lure international visitors back to the UK by removing the tourist tax,” Holland-Kaye said.

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