Heathrow losses fall as nine-month retail concession sales soar 30%

By Kristiane Sherry |

New Heathrow CEO Thomas Woldbye as the airport's nine-month results are released.

New Heathrow CEO Thomas Woldbye as the airport’s nine-month results are released. Image: Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow has released its nine-month financial results which show retail concession sales climbed 30.8% to hit £187 million. Losses fell to £19m as total airport revenues reached £2,739m for the period to 30 September.

Passenger numbers over the period reached 59m, an increase of 34.4% year-on-year. 

The airport declared itself “back to its best” following the pandemic declines, with traffic at 97.4% of pre-pandemic levels. 

Despite the increases in both sales and passenger numbers, revenue per passenger shrank by 7.4% to £8.65. Heathrow attributed this to the removal of VAT-free shopping

Heathrow said its balance sheet was “strong”, with £4.6 billion of liquidity enough to cover obligations over the next two years. It is not forecasting dividends for 2023. 

Despite a “challenging” settlement from the Civil Aviation Authority, the airport said it is continuing to invest in key upgrades. Projects include a “transformative” security programme, upgrading the Terminal 2 baggage system, and ploughing £200m into carbon emission reductions. 

Sustainability commitments include an increase in the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). It plans to campaign for scaled-up SAF production at the upcoming COP28. 

Heathrow retail breakdown nine-month to Sept 30

Heathrow’s retail results for the nine months to 30 September.

Heathrow noted that passenger satisfaction continues to exceed 2022 levels. Overall, 74% of passengers questioned from January to September rated the airport as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

The airport also noted it had become the “most connected airport” globally, according to the recent OAG Aviation connectivity report. 

It now offers routes to 214 destinations. Flights to Peru and Turkmenistan are due to commence this winter. 

Heathrow: ‘Back British growth’

In its report, Heathrow called on the UK Government to “back British growth” in its upcoming Autumn Statement. 

It called for job creation with a domestic SAF industry, the reinstatement of tax-free shopping for retailers, and a commitment to rail links to the airport. 

Heathrow's nine-month financial results in full.

Heathrow’s nine-month financial results in full.

The nine-month financial statement also marked a transition of leadership at Heathrow. Departing CEO John Holland-Kaye stepped down earlier this month after nine years in-post. 

Thomas Woldbye has stepped into the role, spending the first few weeks building relationships with colleagues. 

“Heathrow is already a great national asset for Britain – and our best days still lie ahead,” Woldbye said. 

“We’ve got a clear plan to connect all of Britain to global growth, a flight path to net-zero by 2050, and while we have a tight settlement from the CAA, we will upgrade the airport for our customers. 

“I’m excited to take on the challenge and looking forward to working with Team Heathrow to build an even stronger hub for Britain in the next decade.”

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