Heathrow annual losses halve to £684m as passenger numbers surge

Heathrow  Passengers walk with their luggage through Heathrow Terminal 5 airport in London, Britain, June 1, 2022.REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Heathrow expects 2023 to be one of 'renewal' after three years of disruption caused by the COVID pandemic. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Heathrow airport halved its losses last year as a trebling of passenger numbers helped recovery.

The group reported underlying pre-tax losses of £684m ($823m) for last year, against losses of £1.3bn in 2021.

Passenger numbers trebled to 61.6 million, up by 42.2 million on a COVID-hit 2021, which it claimed was the biggest increase of any major global airport.

That figure, however, remains 25% down on the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Heathrow said it expects passenger numbers to rise to 67.2 million for 2023, thanks to stronger demand for travel and despite the cost of living pressures facing households.

Read more: Revealed: UK's least favourite airlines

However, its forecasts for 2023 mean it would only be hitting 83% of 2019 passenger levels.

The airport was forced to introduce a cap on passenger numbers to control disruption as the industry suffered from staff shortages last summer.

“The border closures and loss of skills deeply scarred the global aviation sector and it will take some time to fully recover,” the airport said.

John Holland-Kaye, the outgoing chief executive of Heathrow, said that “2022 may have been a year of recovery, but 2023 is shaping up to be a year of renewal for Heathrow”.

He added: “Our teams have already delivered a successful Christmas and half-term getaway, and with a great investment plan in place, we are determined to once again rank in the top 10 airports for service.”

Holland-Kaye announced plans earlier this month to step down later this year after nine years in the role. He will remain in post until a successor is appointed.

Read more: Holiday prices to popular destinations jump by hundreds of pounds

The West London airport also took aim at Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulated charges in its results, branding tariff plans for the next three years as “not deliverable due to errors in the CAA’s forecasts”.

The CAA controls Heathrow’s maximum airport charge and has brought in an interim tariff until it makes a final decision on charges for the next period to the end of 2026.

Heathrow, which is owned by Spanish group Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and other investors, said no dividends were paid in 2022 and none were planned for 2023 as its financing remained "conservative".

Watch: Heathrow annual losses halve to £684m as pandemic recovery gathers speed

Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.