June 26, 2022

London Heathrow has hiked its annual passenger forecast again as it continued to benefit from a resurgence in overseas travel even.

Britain’s largest airport now expects 54.4 million travellers to come through its premises this year, which would be around two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels.

At the height of the Omicron variant outbreak in December, it had predicted a total of 45 million people for 2022 before elevating that figure to 53 million last month following a significant surge in demand.

Upgraded outlook: London Heathrow now expects 54.4 million travellers to come through its premises this year, which would be around two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels

It anticipates revenues will more than double from the previous year to £2.59billion while adjusted underlying earnings are set to skyrocket by 257 per cent to £1.37billion.

Yet the airport cautioned that operating costs are forecast to climb by almost half due to investment measures and higher energy prices increasing utility costs.

Heathrow flew 20.1 million passengers in the first five months of 2022, compared to just under 3 million last year when rules regarding cross-border travel were highly prohibitive.

This sudden rebound in travellers has often left the airport struggling to cope as staff shortages have led to long check-in queues and flight cancellations.

Two days ago, around 30 flights carrying up to 5,000 passengers were axed at Heathrow after technical problems arose in its baggage reclaim areas, leading to trolleys of unattended luggage piling up outside the airport.

Prior to this week, many holidaymakers looking to get away during the Platinum Jubilee half-term and Easter holidays were hit by long delays or cancelled flights.

In an investor report published today, Heathrow admitted that ‘resources remain tight’ but said it was working with airlines, ground handlers and Border Force to minimise disruption ahead of the peak summer period.

It opened Terminal 4 last week, having kept it shut to passengers for two years, hired more security officers, engineers and service workers, and enhanced its use of automation to try and lower wait times.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland Kaye apologised to passengers who have endured disruption on their journeys, saying: ‘We have faced 40 years of growth in just four months, and that has put the entire aviation industry under pressure.

‘We’re working hard to ramp up our operations for the summer peak as quickly as we can with the same level of security officers this summer as in 2019, and we have reopened Terminal 4, which will be serving over 30 airlines by mid-July.

‘Our operating plan is working, and the vast majority of passengers have had good, predictable journeys.’