London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is anticipating better than expected yearly passenger traffic numbers.
Heathrow now forecasts that a total of 53 million passengers will travel through the airport in 2022, an increase of 16% compared to previous assumptions. The airport said previously that it expected passenger traffic to reach 45.5 million in 2022.
According to the airport, a total of 5 million passengers travelled through Heathrow in April 2022, “with outbound leisure travelers and Brits cashing in airline travel vouchers driving the recovery in passenger demand which is expected to last throughout the summer”. Despite the increase in passenger traffic, travel demand will reach just 65% of pre-pandemic levels for 2022.
“We all want to see travel get back to pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible, and while I am encouraged by the rise in passenger numbers, we also have to be realistic,” Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said in a report.
Holland-Kaye continued: “There are significant challenges ahead – the CAA can either plan for them with a robust and adaptable regulatory settlement that delivers for passengers and withstands any shocks, or it can prioritize airline profits by cutting back on passenger service leaving the industry to scramble when things go wrong in future.”
Heathrow also said that the unpredictability across the aviation sector will remain due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, higher fuel costs, continuing travel restrictions for key markets like the United States, and the potential for a further variant of the COVID-19 virus.
Looking ahead, the airport is preparing to reopen Terminal 4 and recruit more than 1,000 new security personnel as part of a plan to maintain smooth passenger service throughout the summer.
The UK’s busiest airports, including Heathrow, have been facing long queues as well as numerous flight cancellations and delays due to staff shortages for the past few weeks.
The aviation sector is facing staffing problems because of the large numbers of people placed on furlough during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a subsequent increase in air travel demand before this year’s busy summer period.