London’s Heathrow Airport saw revenues soar 36% to £1,742 million for the six months to 30 June 2023, but passenger numbers remain “consistently” below pre-pandemic levels.
In its financial reporting, Heathrow revealed its losses had halved to £139m before tax. While it is not forecasting any dividends, it said its balance sheet was “strong” with enough liquidity to cover the next 24 months.
Over 37 million passengers travelled through the airport over the six-month period. While the number represents a 42% increase year-on-year, the airport noted the cost-of-living crisis as a “material headwind”.
Revenues from retail operations climbed 30% to reach £322m, driven by higher departing passenger numbers.
Retail revenue per passenger however decreased by 8.3% to £8.68, due to the “removal of duty free shopping”, Heathrow stated.
Speaking at TRBusiness’s recent TR Consumer Forum, Heathrow’s Retail Director Fraser Brown decried the UK government policy to cull tax-free shopping as “an act of economic vandalism”.
Heathrow revenues indicate wider positive performance
In its financial report, Heathrow confirmed improved passenger experiences across the airport, with security waits typically less than five minutes as the summer getaway commenced.
The airport also welcomed new routes, with LoganAir adding locations thanks to its shift to lower domestic charges.
It noted that the airport now offers 248 daily flights to 31 US destinations. It also claims to be better connected to India and China than other European hub competitors.
Heathrow has plans for £3.7bn in further passenger improvements, which will include upgrading baggage systems and streamlining security.
It also said it “continues to lead the industry in reducing the use of fossil fuels”.
“The summer getaway has got off to a great start, thanks to planning and close collaboration with airlines and their ground handlers,” said outgoing Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye.
“I am immensely proud of what we have achieved as a team in the last nine years, transforming Heathrow into a world-class airport that Britain can be proud of.
“Heathrow is now a leader in sustainability, with a diverse culture that reflects our local community and can attract the best talent from around the world.”
Holland-Kaye will be succeeded by Copenhagen Airport boss Thomas Woldbye later this year.
Last month, analyst m1nd-set shared data which showed Europe-wide air traffic was falling just short of pre-pandemic levels. Forecasts showed that from May-September, traffic would hit 91% of that seen in 2019. Premium travel share however was outpacing growth, exceeding the pre-pandemic baseline.