Heathrow welcomed a record 80.9 million passengers in 2019 (+1% vs 2018) with 82% rating the airport as “Excellent” or “Very Good” following private investment of over £12 billion. The share of UK exports handled through Heathrow increased to 40%, strengthening the airport's position as the UK’s biggest port.
Left - Heathrow Airport
Heathrow remains in strong financial health: revenues climbed 3.4% to £3.1 billion on the back of increased demand to fly – supporting an additional £856 million of investment into the airport in 2019. Adjusted EBITDA rose 4.6% to £1.9 billion.
Remaining competitive in the lead-up to expansion continues to be a priority: strict operating cost discipline while prioritising service, operational resilience and investment in growth has driven adjusted costs per passenger pre IFRS 16 up 5.0% to £14.85. Strong balance sheet with liquidity extended to October 2021 after raising £2.1 billion in global capital markets
Heathrow expansion will boost economic prosperity, fulfilling the Prime Minister’s vision of a Global Britain – The case for expansion was strengthened as new figures revealed that growth at EU competitor Charles de Gaulle is set to overtake Heathrow, threatening the UK’s only hub airport and the Prime Minister’s ambition for a Global Britain. As capacity constraints continue to strangle the UK’s biggest port by value, trade and tourism volumes are being handed on a plate to European competitors
Expanding the UK’s only hub airport will help level up the country – Heathrow delivered a record year for apprenticeship starts in 2019, and finalists in the airport’s UK-wide logistics hub search await the final green light to help build expansion. £14 billion of private investment ready to launch tens of thousands of jobs, thousands of apprenticeships, new technology and huge economic benefits in every corner of the country
Heathrow takes a lead on addressing the biggest issue of our time – climate change – signing up to unwavering commitment of net-zero carbon by 2050, alongside the rest of the aviation industry. The west London airport achieved carbon-neutral status in January 2020 and are working towards operating zero-carbon infrastructure by mid-2030s for all its infrastructure.
Significantly, the airport remains clear that unless expansion meets strict environmental targets, no additional capacity can or will be used
Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye, said:
“Within two years, [Paris] Charles de Gaulle will overtake Heathrow as the biggest airport in Europe. Heathrow’s new runway is ready to turn ‘global Britain’ into more than just a campaign slogan. It’s the key to the UK’s success after Brexit and will ensure we stay ahead of our European rivals. Expansion will be built within legally-binding environmental targets, creating lower airfares for passengers, connecting every corner of Britain to global growth and all at no cost to the taxpayer. It’s time to get on with it.”
Above - High capacity aircraft like the Airbus A380 are a necessity at Heathrow due to the constraints on runways (Kevan James)
KJM Today Opinion
Kevan James' excellent book, Heathrow Airport 70 years and Counting, reveals a number of significant factors. One of them is that Heathrow Airport has had its detractors since the day it opened in 1946. Yet the contribution made to the UK by the airport is undeniable. Another point that cannot be denied (no matter how it is otherwise dressed up) is that aviation plays a vital role in the prosperity of the UK, whether it is in the European Union or not.
While there is little doubt that withdrawal from the EU will have some effect in the short term, another of those undeniable facts is that the world does not revolve around the EU. That it plays an important role and one of great value, in world affairs and can be of great benefit both to its member countries and the wider world as a whole, is - once again - undeniable. But there is life outside it. Consequently, the benefits to the UK will only be enhanced by expanding Heathrow Airport.
Yes, that is going to hurt somebody but another aspect amply demonstrated in the book shows that Heathrow's growth has been hindered by the political games played over and around it, once again since it opened. Paris Charles de Gaulle airport has four runways. Frankfurt has four runways. Amsterdam has six. Brussels has three. Rome has four. Many of Europe's busiest airports have more runways than Heathrow and, to borrow a phrase from James' book: 'Little Heathrow, with its mere two runways, would fit inside the perimeters of... European Airports with room to spare'.
And none of them are as busy as London's airport - at least up until to now.
Yet the land set aside for the airport at its inception - and today still owned by it - is ample for Heathrow to have expanded decades ago. This is a discussion that should have been settled a very long time in the past. That it hasn't is an indictment of continual and never-ending political short-sightedness, the garnering of easy votes, expediency and plain cowardice on the part of politicians. It leads to the question; why does the UK continue to hold itself back by incessant dithering when other countries get on with things?
The complete history of Heathrow can be found in Kevan James' book, Heathrow Airport 70 Years and Counting. Reviews and details of where to buy your copy are on the home page.