Heathrow sees second record-breaking month, issues statement on ETAs

By Benedict Evans |

Heathrow Airport

Good Friday was the busiest ever direct departure day with 118,000 passengers travelling from the airport.

Nearly seven million people travelled through Heathrow in March, making it the second month in a row the airport has served a record number of passengers this year. The UK travel hub did however express concerns over the application of the ETA scheme to airside transit passengers.

A total of 936,000 passengers took advantage of the bank holiday, making it Heathrow’s busiest Easter weekend ever.

Good Friday was the busiest ever direct departure day with 118,000 passengers travelling from the airport.

During March, over 94% of passengers rated their overall satisfaction at the airport as ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’, and Heathrow says its focus remains on providing a smooth and strong operation as the summer period kicks into gear.

Work is ongoing to optimise its current infrastructure making passenger processes faster, more efficient and more resilient, including a £1bn upgrade to 146 security scanners and ongoing investment in the T2 baggage system.

Statement on ETAs

In a statement released to its website, Heathrow noted, while it supports the overall rationale behind the introduction of Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs), it expressed concerns around further application of the government scheme.

The revised plans, which initially applied to all global visitors without legal residence in the UK pay a fee of £10 to enter or transit through the UK, will also be applied to airside transit passengers.

Heathrow says this puts UK airports at a competitive disadvantage compared to EU hubs.

Thomas Woldbye, CEO at Heathrow, said: “We’re on a journey to be an extraordinary airport fit for the future and it’s great to see the progress we’re making this year with smooth journeys for a record number of passengers choosing Heathrow. But to keep up the momentum the government needs to exempt airside transit passengers from the ETA scheme to avoid encouraging passengers to spend and do business elsewhere. We need to level the playing field, so the UK aviation industry continues to be world-class.”

The UK travel hub noted it was already seeing an impact; in the first four months of ETAs being in place, 19,000 fewer transit passengers travelled from Qatar, with the transfer route recording its lowest monthly proportions for over ten years each month since the implementation of ETAs.

It added this is a huge blow to UK competitiveness, as many long-haul routes, which are highly important to the UK’s economy, exports and wider connectivity, rely on transit passengers.

READ MORE: Extra time for airports’ 3D scanning technology delays end to liquids limit

READ MORE: Heathrow Airport records its busiest ever February half-term

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