Passenger numbers rise as Heathrow recovers from last summer’s chaos

by | Sep 11, 2023

(Sharecast News) – Heathrow Airport reported strong growth in August’s passenger numbers on Monday, as well as heightened passenger satisfaction, making for a stark contrast to the travel chaos of summer 2022.
A total of 7.5 million passengers passed through London’s primary air hub in August, with the rise in passenger numbers evident across various destinations.

UK terminal passengers saw an increase of 45.9%, while travellers to Asia-Pacific destinations witnessed a staggering growth of 71%.

Total passenger growth for August stood at 25.1% year-on-year.

Heathrow also saw a surge in the amount of luggage it was handling, but the airport said its own baggage support team offered significant support to airline handlers in an apparent bid to ensure the chaotic scenes of last year were not repeated.

Heathrow, and the UK aviation sector in general, was marred by post-pandemic understaffing, thousands of lost bags and delays of many multiples of hours due to handling delays in the summer of 2022.

The airport said the measures it had taken to enhance the passenger experience seemed to have paid off, with satisfaction levels rising higher than the pre-pandemic era.

It said that over the last two years, investments in recruitment and training had led to the induction of more than 25,000 new staff members.

That staffing augmentation ensured resilience in operations, the company explained, especially during the UK-wide air traffic restrictions experienced in August.

As a result, even when faced with disruptions, Heathrow said it was more able to resume normal operations swiftly.

August also saw security checks averaging just 1.5 minutes, resulting in a surge in sales at its terminal eateries including Pret A Manger, which reported the sale of nearly one million sandwiches, and high demand in retail with a pair of sunglasses apparently being purchased every two minutes.

On the international front, Heathrow expanded its global reach, adding more flight routes as travel restrictions eased, notably to China, making it the European hub with the most direct flights to the world’s second economy.

Moreover, Latin American airline LATAM confirmed the start of the UK’s only direct service to Peru, scheduled to begin from Heathrow on 1 December.

The growth wasn’t limited to passenger movement alone, with total air transport movements in August rising 17.6%, and significant growth in regions such as the Asia-Pacific, which saw a 46.9% increase.

Cargo transport also saw a rise with a total increment of 12.7%, although cargo movements from the European Union specifically were down 3.9% year-on-year in terms of metric tonnage.

“I am very proud of the way colleagues across team Heathrow made sure that passengers had a super start to their summer holidays, with record levels of passenger satisfaction and average security queue times of less than two minutes,” said chief executive officer John Holland-Kaye.

“Heathrow is back to its best.”

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

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