Heathrow Airport records busiest start of year since before pandemic

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Heathrow Airport is “back to its best” having recorded the busiest start of the year since before the pandemic, its boss John Holland-Kaye has said.

The UK’s busiest airport revealed more than 5.4 million passengers travelled through Heathrow in January, reaching levels not seen since the start of 2020.

It comes as UK airports were hit with severe disruption in the run up to Christmas with Border Force staff staging strike action in December.

But Heathrow said on Monday that it had “successfully managed” the strike action, having previously made assurances that it was operating normally with minimal queuing in immigration halls throughout the strike days.

It reiterated plans for eGates for children aged 10 and 11 to be trialled in Terminal 5 over half term, which it said helps bring about “smooth and seamless journeys”.

Its overall passenger satisfaction scores are now at or above pre-pandemic levels, the airport also announced.

In January, 97% of passengers waited less that 10 minutes for security, it said.

Passengers queuing to go through security in departures at Terminal 5 (Steve Parsons/PA)
Passengers queuing to go through security in departures at Terminal 5 (Steve Parsons/PA)

But Heathrow hailed a strong half-term travel period, assuring that the airport is well equipped to manage the influx in families enjoying getaways.

Chief executive Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow is back to its best, with passenger satisfaction scores meeting or exceeding 2019 levels.

“We are giving a warm welcome to families over the half-term getaway by delivering excellent service and bringing back the magic of travel.”

Furthermore, the airport said it is supportive of airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic restarting ticket sales to China, “reopening a key market for British exports once more”.

Businesses and investors have reacted positively to China reopening its borders this year as the world’s largest economy revealed it is developing a path out of its strict “zero Covid” policy.

Mr Holland-Kaye delivered the update ahead of him standing down from his role this year.

He has been chief executive for nine years and is set to remain in post until Heathrow appoints a successor.

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