Heathrow Airport is anticipating its busiest Christmas period since pre-pandemic times. London’s busiest airport hit 84% of its pre-COVID levels in October and won’t be enforcing a capacity cap this winter.
Heathrow expects resurgent Christmas
London Heathrow Airport is preparing for a busy festive season as its recovery continues. The airport is on track for its busiest Christmas peak since 2019, noting returning demand for leisure and business travel driving up passenger numbers.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said,
“We have come so far since Omicron grounded Christmas travel plans last year. Heathrow, our airline partners and their handlers are all working together to make sure everyone can be reunited with their loved ones this Christmas.”
Photo: Heathrow Airport
LHR says it is working closely with airlines and ground handlers to prepare for the Christmas peak and won’t be overstretched. The airport adds that strong demand from Middle Eastern and Central Asian markets seen in October is expected to continue this winter.
Passenger cap ruled out
There were fears that London Heathrow would consider implementing a passenger cap again, but the airport has effectively ruled this out. However, factors outside of its control could still impact operations at LHR this Christmas, with a series of possible strikes on the horizon.
London Heathrow Airport said,
“We are aware of potential strike action at a number of organisations, including a national Border Force strike. We are supporting organisations on contingency plans to minimise any impact, and encourage all parties to put the interests of passengers first.”
This includes strike action from roughly 700 Heathrow workers employed by Dnata and Menzies set to launch on November 18th in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Heathrow dropped its daily passenger cap at the end of October but warned at the time that it could implement a “target mechanism, that, if needed, would align supply and demand on a small number of peak days in the lead up to Christmas.”
Back on form in October
London Heathrow Airport’s recovery continues following a strong October performance – LHR handled almost 5.9 million passengers last month, an increase of over 93% from last year but still only 84% of its 2019 figure.
The biggest growth compared to last year was seen in LHR’s North American and Latin American markets. So far this year, the airport has handled over 12.6 million travelers from North America, a huge 566% increase from 2021.
Photo: Heathrow Airport
The airport has now served 50 million passengers so far over 2022, 74% of its capacity for the same period in 2019. Heathrow claims it has increased its passenger numbers more rapidly than any airport in Europe this year, aided by its recruitment and training of around 16,000 employees in the past 12 months.
The airport adds that “at current rates of recruitment, we are on track to get back to pre-pandemic employment levels before the peak summer holiday period in 2023.”
How often have you flown out of London Heathrow Airport this year? How did you find the overall experience? Let us know your stories in the comments.
London Heathrow Airport
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- United Kingdom
- John Holland-Kaye
- Passenger Count :
- 19,392,178 (2021)
- Runways :
- 09L/27R – 3,902m (12,802ft) |09R/27L – 3,660m (12,008ft)
- Terminal 2 |Terminal 3 |Terminal 4 |Terminal 5