Heathrow airport has updated its passenger forecast for 2022 from 45.5 million to 52.8 million, but says the future is still uncertain.
In an update, the airport said it expects to remain loss-making in 2022 as COVID losses top £4 billion.
Heathrow said January and February were much weaker than expected due to Omicron-related travel restrictions, while March demand increased after the unexpectedly quick removal of all UK travel restrictions on 18 March.
“We are seeing a temporary increase in demand driven by UK outbound leisure passengers taking advantage of removed UK travel restrictions and redeeming travel vouchers accrued during the pandemic,” the statement said.
“As a result, we are updating our 2022 passenger forecast from which represents a return to 65% of pre-pandemic traffic this year. However, demand remains very volatile and we expect these passenger numbers to drop off significantly after the summer.
“We are already seeing airlines cancelling services into the autumn and the realities of higher fuel costs, lower GDP growth, the war in Ukraine and the ongoing pandemic will drag on demand. We are still in a pandemic with many markets still closed, nearly 80% with testing and vaccination requirements and another variant of concern could see the return of UK travel restrictions.”
CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “I want to thank colleagues who worked very hard to ensure the start of 2022 has gone to plan, and I want to reassure passengers that we’re redoubling our efforts to ensure this summer’s journeys go safely and smoothly.”