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Heathrow Airport’s losses deepen as Covid impact continues

Heathrow Airport’s losses have deepened as the coronavirus collapse in travel continues to “devastate” aviation.

Britain’s biggest airport sunk a further £329m into the red in the first three months of the year, bringing total losses since the start of the pandemic to £2.4bn.

Just 1.7 million passengers travelled through the airport during the quarter, down 91% on the period in 2019.

Boss John Holland-Kaye said the figures revealed the scale of the Covid hit.

Cargo volumes are also down 23% on 2019, underlining how a lack of flights affects UK trade with the rest of the world, he said.

But Mr Holland-Kaye hoped this was as bad as it gets now that lockdown restrictions are easing and economies are opening up.

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“These results show how Covid has devastated the aviation sector and British trade,” the Heathrow chief executive said.

“Restarting international travel from May 17 will help to kickstart the economic recovery, allowing exporters to get their goods to market, as well as reuniting families who have been separated for over a year.”

However, he anticipated it would be a long time before travel returned to pre-pandemic levels because of uncertainty over government policy.

Despite saying there was strong underlying demand for travel, the airport said it had cut its passenger forecast for the year to between 13 and 36 million. In 2019, 81 million people passed through Heathrow.

The airport’s statement also warned about queues building at passport control, after reports earlier this month that some people had waited up to seven hours to get through immigration checks.

“Border Force’s ability to provide an acceptable service for arriving passengers remains primary concern surrounding the restart, and Ministers will need to ensure every desk is staffed to avoid unacceptable queues,” Heathrow said.