London-Heathrow on track for busiest-ever year as April 2024 traffic soars  

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Strong April 2024 passenger numbers have kept London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) on track to handle its busiest-ever year for passenger traffic passing through its terminals. The airport welcomed 6.7 million passengers in April 2024, an increase of 4.8% compared to April 2023 and bringing the total for the first four months of 2024 so far to 25.2 million travelers, up by 8.2% year-on-year.  

During April 2024, the airport handled a daily average of 224,000 passengers, while Friday, April 19, 2024, saw the airport’s busiest post-pandemic day of operations with a total of 1,337 movements (arrivals and departures) in the single 24-hour period. The airport handled 39,517 aircraft movements for the month and 151,923 between January and April 2024, increases of 5.1% and 7.5%, respectively, year-on-year. 

Additionally, in the rolling twelve months from May 2023 to April 2024, the airport handled 81.1 million passengers, an increase of 15.5% over the same period in 2022/23. 

Heathrow handled 79.2 million in 2023 to rank fourth in the world for total passengers, recovering to 97.9% from 2019 figures. This compares favorably with the world average. In 2023, almost 8.5 billion passengers passed through the world’s airports, 27.2% more than in 2022, representing a 93.8% recovery compared to pre-pandemic (2019) figures.  

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“It takes an extraordinary team to deliver this strong performance and I’m proud of what everyone across the airport has achieved so far this year,” said Heathrow CEO Thomas Woldbye. “As we continue to grow, our focus is on making Heathrow fit for the future, delivering reliable journeys for all our customers today, and getting ready for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.”  

However, the airport remains dissatisfied with the lack of support from the UK government in terms of providing policies that help facilities such as Heathrow. The airport would like to see initiatives such as the introduction of visas for transiting passengers, the absence of tax-free shopping, and the abolishment of a recently proposed hike in business rates, which the airport said is curtailing the UK’s global connectivity.  

The airport believes that a supportive policy environment for aviation would deliver a much-needed boost to the UK economy by encouraging people to visit, spend, and do business in the country.  

“To unlock our full potential to help grow the country’s economy, we need the Government to implement policies that support UK aviation’s ability to compete globally, and thus make the UK more competitive overall,” Thomas Woldbye added. 

Breaking down the numbers 

Breaking down the 39,517 aircraft movements in April 2024, 44% of those were from the EU, 20% from North America, 9% from Asia-Pacific, 8% from the UK and from non-EU Europe, 6% from the Middle East, 3% from Africa and 2% from Latin America.  

The fastest growing markets compared to April 2023 were the UK (28.0%), followed by Asia-Pacific (9.5%), the EU (4.7%), Latin America (4.5%), non-EU Europe (4.4%) and the Middle East (3.0%). Africa fell by 5.7%, and North America remained about the same as the same month in 2023. 

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East Asian and Middle Eastern routes have seen double-digit percentage increases in passengers. A surge in passengers to Delhi and Mumbai has made these cities the sixth and eighth most popular destinations so far in 2024 with New York, Dubai, and Doha taking the top three spots, respectively.  

Notably, on Saturday, April 27, 2024, Heathrow’s Terminal 2 welcomed its millionth flight with Icelandair FI454 from Keflavik International Airport (KEF) arriving at 19:49.  The milestone comes as the Terminal prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of its complete renovation which was completed in the summer of 2014. 

Looking ahead, Heathrow’s forecasts show that the airport remains on track to see its busiest-ever year of operations in 2024. Current estimated figures issued by the airport show that it is forecast to handle 82.4 million passengers by the end of the year.  


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