Heathrow Airport’s call for support warranted amid colossal losses for airports, says GlobalData

Following Heathrow Airport’s dismal year-end loss of £2bn ($2.8bn) the airport is calling for increased government support;

Gus Gardner, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“Heathrow Airport is right to call on the government for increased support as the current, strict international travel rules make it an extremely tough operating environment with virtually non-existent demand. It is extremely likely that 2021 is going to be as tough, if not tougher, than 2020. Heathrow must do everything in its power to get the support it requires as, if support is not given, the airport could be at a high risk of further job cuts and there will be a serious impact on the UK economy.

“With high operating costs, losses for the airport have been colossal. The lack of government support for the UK travel sector as a whole has been dismal, and furlough payments alone have only protected staff. Heathrow Airport has been one of the most impacted as a result of external factors outside of its control.

“England’s roadmap for the easing of lockdown has provided a glimmer of hope, however, airports’ operating costs are not simply disappearing, and airlines will not be operating normal schedules until at least 17 May 2021 – which is still a long way off.

“The roadmap for lockdown easing is only provisional, it could take much longer to come to fruition if certain criteria are not met, and passenger confidence may not rebound as quickly. Yes, the UK’s vaccine rollout is happening at a rapid pace, however, there could be an extremely limited number of countries accepting international arrivals from the UK when outbound UK leisure trips eventually restart. A limited number of destinations would result in continued suppressed demand and the airport may struggle to significantly increase its traffic levels in the short term.”

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