Demand to travel in January from Heathrow Airport was weaker than expected and over 56% down versus pre-pandemic levels, as the hangover from Omicron continued to suppress passenger confidence.
Image courtesy Heathrow
Over 1.3 million passengers cancelled or did not book their trips because of omicron restrictions in December and January
While bookings for outbound tourism are recovering, inbound tourism and business travel remain weak due to COVID-19 levels in the UK and other countries, international testing requirements and the risk of new border closures in the event of a new variant of concern.
Heathrow has urged the UK Government to support the sustainable recovery of travel and trade by outlining a playbook for managing future variants and seeking international harmonisation of travel rules.
The airport is maintaining its forecast for the year at just over half of pre-pandemic levels on the basis that strong demand for outbound summer holidays can offset a weaker start to the year and are working with airlines and ground handlers to increase resources across Heathrow ahead of the summer peak, whilst continuing to workwith the CAA on a better regulatory outcome for consumers by correcting the factual errors in its initial proposals and designing effective mechanisms to enable the fastest possible traffic recovery.
With the launch of our updated sustainability strategy - Heathrow 2.0: Connecting People and Planet - it has set out ambitious plans to reduce fossil fuel carbon from aviation and to make Heathrow a great place to live and work.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “After a tough Christmas, Omicron has continued to bite and this has been a weak start to the year. As short-lived as the additional travel restrictions were, they ruined the travel plans of more than 1.3 million passengers in the last two months.
“Removal of restrictions for vaccinated passengers in and out of the UK offers a ray of hope but the Omicron hangover proves demand remains fragile, and at risk to new variants of concern and Government needs to set out a playbook for managing future variants that allows travel and trade to keep flowing.”