Heathrow airport makes profit for first time since pandemic

There was a 28.6% jump in passengers travelling through the south London airport's terminals last year. Credit: PA Images

Heathrow has returned to profit for the first time since global travel was halted during the pandemic.

The owners of the south London airport reported underlying pre-tax profits of £38 million in 2023, against losses of £684 million the previous year.

The profits mark the first time it has made a profit since 2019, thanks to a bounce-back in international travel.

It saw a 28.6% jump in passengers travelling through its terminals, to 79.2 million, capped off by a strong end to the year- its busiest-ever December.

Heathrow forecast that a record number of passengers would use the airport this year, pencilling in a rise to 81.4 million in 2024.

The airport’s current busiest year was 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, when passenger numbers reached 80.9 million.

But the group said it was being hampered by the “huge cost challenge” set by the UK aviation regulator, having been a vocal critic of the Civil Aviation Authority’s move not to allow it to raise its landing fees further.

Thomas Woldbye, Heathrow’s recently appointed chief executive, said: “2023 was a good year for Heathrow from a challenging start to a great finish.

“We delivered much improved service for our customers, and managed to turn a small profit after three consecutive years of losses.

“That’s a great platform to build on, although in 2024 we are expected to deliver even further improved service to more passengers, but with airport charges cut by 20% in real terms."