Heathrow passenger numbers remained 71% down in August compared to August 2019, pushing it from the busiest airport in Europe last year down to 10th position.
It has been overtaken by others including Schiphol in Amsterdam, Istanbul, Paris CDG, Frankfurt and Madrid, which are all recovering at a much quicker pace.
“These EU competitors also reached pre-pandemic cargo volumes at the end of 2020, while cargo at the UK’s biggest port is still down 14%, compared to August 2019,” said Heathrow, which blamed the UK’s traffic light system for travel for its loss of market share.
It said this must be streamlined by ministers as part of the Global Travel Taskforce review in the coming weeks to get travel levels and economic activity safely back to pre-pandemic levels. “Otherwise the UK will continue to lose trade and face lower levels of foreign tourism, impacting jobs and slowing the UK’s economic recovery,” it said.
Heathrow also said Border Force ‘must ensure they have adequate resources and processes in place to ensure travellers receive a warm welcome into the UK’ as passenger numbers continue to grow.
“Recent scenes of passengers waiting for hours to be processed through the UK border are totally unacceptable. Border Force can and should deliver both a secure UK border and an efficient service for passengers,” it added.
Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye said: “The Government has the tools to protect the UK’s international competitiveness which will boost the economic recovery and achieve its Global Britain ambitions. If ministers fail to take this opportunity to streamline the travel rules then the UK will fall further behind as trade and tourists will increasingly by-pass the UK.”