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Heathrow Issues Pessimistic Demand Forecast, Says Passenger Numbers Could Still Take Years to Fully Recover

Heathrow Issues Pessimistic Demand Forecast, Says Passenger Numbers Could Still Take Years to Fully Recover

Heathrow International Airport said on Wednesday that a full recovery in demand could still be years away despite boasting that it had reclaimed the crown as Europe’s busiest hub airport over the busy summer months.

The airport now forecasts that it will handle between 60 to 62 million passengers in 2022 which is around 25 per cent below what Heathrow handled in 2019.

Heathrow warned that it doesn’t expect a full recovery for several more years, blaming a variety of factors including the war in Ukraine and soaring inflation for dampening travel demand over the next 12 months at least.

The pessimistic outlook shared by Heathrow stands in sharp contrast to what some airlines at the airport are experiencing. The owner of British Airways, which is Heathrow’s biggest airline, says it has seen “no indication of weakness” in forward bookings despite a cost of living crisis.

U.S. airlines have also reported healthy forward bookings on transatlantic services, even during traditionally slower travel periods.

Some airline executives have blamed Heathrow’s pessimism for the airport’s perceived failure to properly prepare for the end of pandemic-era travel restrictions earlier this year.

Heathrow was forced to impose a cap on passenger numbers in order to cope with the surge in travel demand and on Wednesday, the airport once again warned airlines that it could reimpose those restrictions on a “small number of peak days in the lead up to Christmas”.

Under fire airport boss John Holland-Kaye insists that despite negative headlines, the vast majority of Heathrow’s passengers experienced a good service. Underscoring the challenges, however, Holland-Kaye estimates that businesses across the airport will need to recruit 25,000 security cleared employees in the coming months.

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