Heathrow Airport has revealed it plunged to a £2bn loss due to the lowest passenger numbers recorded in the last 50 years.
Before the pandemic, the airport used to transport about 80 million passengers per year but in 2020 this figure dropped to only 22 million travelers.
In spite of these concerning financial results, Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye mentioned that the airport is not considering suspending payments to its creditors because they have “enough money to cope until 2023.”
Heathrow is owned by the Qatar Investment Authority, China Investment Corp and Spain’s Ferrovial among other big names.
Holland-Kaye is counting on being able to resume most of the airports’ operations in mid-May after the disclosure of the UK government’s roadmap for the reopening.
“For the aviation sector, we can start to plan ahead for 17 May to make sure we’ve got the people and the planes in place so that we can get, not just people on their holidays, but also start to get British businesses moving again.” said Holland-Kaye.
But, aren’t these U.K. reopening plans too optimistic?
They are cautious but realistic. A growing number of countries and territories, (Estonia, Cyprus, Guatemala, Cyprus, Iceland and Poland among them), have already announced their intentions to reopen for tourists who have received two doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine.
Additionally, multiple governments are reportedly pushing the European Union to implement a sort of European-wide COVID-19 vaccine passport that allows both travelers to resume their trips, and tourism-dependent economies to start recovering.
The good news is that about 18 million Britons in the UK have already received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine making it one the biggest vaccination rollout successes worldwide.
People aged 70 and over, care home residents, healthcare workers and people required to shield had already been vaccinated by mid-February.
Nowadays, the country has started its second vaccination phase. This means the program has been expanded to include citizens aged 60+ and those at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Therefore, the government is optimistic about the possibility of easing the lockdown by spring.
But in order for all of these efforts to pay off, Heathrow has solicited the government to create an international travel standard to allow passengers to resume trips over the months to come along with providing business tax breaks for airports to help them get over the economic crisis.