The United Kingdom's busiest airport, London Heathrow, situated in West London, has reported a loss of almost £1.1 billion pounds in its results for the 6 months ended 30th June 2020. Significant passenger decline has been stated as the reason for the loss as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to bite the aviation industry.
The airport's CEO, John Holland-Kaye, has stated that for many of their customers, planning a holiday is difficult and that testing offers a way to safely open up travel and trade to some of the UK's biggest markets that remain closed. The travel industry was dealt a blow last week when the UK Foreign Office unexpectedly announced that travellers from mainland Spain would need to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
British Airways Airbus A321 on arrival into London Heathrow. Photo by
Cole McAndrew | AeroNewsX
A gradual increase in passenger numbers is expected with the re-opening of borders internationally. However, passenger volumes are expected to be more than 60% lower in 2020 compared to 2019. The Heathrow CEO along with other business leaders, are pushing for the government to change its quarantine policy. Holland-Kaye said: "Our European competitors are racing ahead with passenger testing, if the UK doesn’t act soon global Britain will be nothing more than a campaign slogan.”
"The UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast. Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette," said Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye.
Cargo has also been hit, with cargo volumes down 30% due to the loss of passenger flights. This is despite an increase in cargo-only flights.
The report by the airport mentions that quick action was taken to protect jobs and cut costs, with average cash burn having been reduced by over 30%. Heathrow has cash reserves sufficient to take it through June 2021 with no revenue.
"UK's economic recovery depends on restarting aviation". Heathrow Airport is not only a large employer supporting around 75,000 jobs, it is also a gateway for global trade.
In a Channel 4 interview, John Holland-Kaye expressed his continued positivity towards the need for a third runway at Heathrow and states it will be needed within a decade if there is success in rebuilding the economy. He also said that if the airport does not expand, the UK will be reliant on Paris' Charles De Gaulle Airport as a hub airport for connections to places like India and Africa.
For now, safety remains the biggest priority at Heathrow Airport, and an extensive array of new COVID-secure technologies are in place. There are also hopes that a testing system will be in place by September.