The operator of London’s Heathrow airport has said it will be “a number of years” before air travel demand at the hub recovers consistently to pre-pandemic levels, in the latest of a series of gloomy forecasts about prospects.
The operator, however, said that from October 30 it would lift the 100,000 passenger-a-day cap on traveller numbers that it imposed in the summer to avoid severe backlogs in light of staff shortages.
The UK’s biggest airport has been one of the most pessimistic voices about the air industry’s post-pandemic prospects. It said on Wednesday when announcing third-quarter results that it expected to handle between 60mn and 62mn passengers this year, about 25 per cent fewer than in 2019.
“Headwinds of a global economic crisis, war in Ukraine and the impact of Covid-19 mean we are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic demand for a number of years, except at peak times,” the airline said.
While lifting the cap on daily passenger departures, it said it was working with airlines on a mechanism that, if necessary, would “align supply and demand” on a “small number of peak days in the run-up to Christmas”.
The company’s adjusted loss for the first nine months — a figure that excludes various accounting effects — reduced to £442mn, from £1.07bn in the same period last year.