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Heathrow's 40 years of passenger growth in 4 months


The Heathrow Observer

July 14, 2022


In a sign of the recovery of UK aviation, nearly 6 million passengers travelled through Heathrow in June, totalling 25 million passengers in the first six months of the year. Unprecedented growth in passenger numbers over the last four months matches what took place over the last 40 years.


The airport began recruiting in November last year in anticipation of capacity recovering this summer, and by the end of July will have as many people working in security as there were pre-pandemic. Terminal 4 has also re-opened to provide more space for passengers.



Rebuilding capacity quickly is very challenging after the significant reductions in resource across the entire aviation supply chain. Arrivals punctuality is very low as a result of delays at other airports and airspace congestion across Europe and this has compounded the challenge of resource constraints for the airport, airlines, ground handlers and government agencies.


In spite of this, Heathrow has been able to provide a good level of service for the vast majority of passengers. However, the airport concedes that despite best efforts there have been periods in recent weeks, where service levels have not been acceptable, with long queue times, delays for passengers with reduced mobility, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late, and Heathrow wants to apologise to any passengers who have been affected by this.


In June, the DfT and CAA asked the aviation sector to review summer schedules, including implementing a slot amnesty to encourage airlines to remove flights without penalty that will minimise further disruption for passengers over the summer getaway. The number one priority at Heathrow is giving passengers a safe and reliable journey and so will carefully assess if airlines’ reviewed schedule changes will help achieve that.



Many people will not have travelled in some time. Passengers can help prepare for their journeys by ensuring they arrive at Heathrow no earlier than 3 hours before their flights, that they have their liquids less than 100ml packed in a clear, resealable 1lt bag and remove their large electronic items from their bags prior to security checkpoints. The airport continues to assess the CAA’s latest analysis for the H7 regulatory period and will comment in due course.


Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Last month, we saw exponential growth in passenger numbers as nearly six million people got away – the equivalent of 40 years of growth in just four months. I am very proud of the way that our team is rising to the challenge of growth, and giving excellent service to the vast majority of passengers. However, we have already seen times recently when demand exceeds the capacity of the airport, airlines and ground handlers.


“We will review the schedule changes that airlines have submitted in response to the government’s requirement to minimise disruption for passengers this summer and will ask them to take further action if necessary. We want everyone who is travelling through Heathrow to be confident that they will have a safe and reliable journey.”



Images courtesy of Heathrow Airport Ltd