London-Heathrow ends the year on a high with almost 80m passengers in 2023 

NATS detailed that the ATC failure was caused by two identically named ATC waypoints
Ceri Breeze /

London-Heathrow Airport has announced it enjoyed a bumper year for traffic in 2023, with passenger numbers using its terminals increasing by nearly 30%. The airport handled 79.2 million passengers in 2023 – up 29% from 2022. 

The pinnacle of the airport’s achievements during the year was the facility’s busiest-ever December. With 6.7 million passengers passing through the airport during that month alone, this figure represents a 13% increase from the same month in 2022.  

The busiest day of the year for Heathrow was December 22, 2023, when almost 250,000 passengers passed through the airport in a single day. Additionally, 142,000 passengers traveled on Christmas Day itself (December 25), and with nearly 800 flights arriving and departing, the airport set a new Christmas Day record. 

The EU was by far the most important destination for Heathrow, with 26.2 million passengers, up 23% from 2022. North America remained the second largest market at 20.0 million passengers and also saw strong annual growth at 30%. 

Asia-Pacific was the third most popular destination, accounting for 9.8 million terminal passengers, up 76% from 2022, during which COVID-19 restrictions lingered in China. 

Transatlantic routes remain a key driver for passenger numbers at Heathrow with 1.6 million traveling to and from North America in December. New York (JFK) clinched the top spot as the most popular destination for the airport in 2023 with over three million passengers in total. 

ATC-related issues are causing flight disruptions within the UK
pio3 /

The figures above cement Heathrow’s position as the fourth busiest airport globally, with 24 routes seeing over a million passengers during the year.   

2023 also saw a record-breaking year for Terminal 5 which surpassed 33 million passengers for the second time since opening in 2008 and served 2.6 million passengers in December alone. 

The 2023 holiday season saw Heathrow process 133,277 tons of cargo in December, culminating in a total of over 1.43 million tons processed through the year. This figure represents over 2% growth compared with 2022, with freight forwarders taking advantage of the airport’s expanding long-haul network. 

“By ending 2023 on a high, a strong foundation is laid for 2024 during which Heathrow will continue to grow and to facilitate the UK’s potential for global growth,” said Chief Executive Officer Thomas Woldbye, who took over the helm of the airport from John Holland-Kaye in October 2023. 

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