Heathrow takes dig at government despite being on target to set new records

London’s Heathrow Airport served a record number of passengers in February as 5.8 million people passed through the UK hub last month.

The busiest ever February half-term saw more than two million passengers at Heathrow. Winter sun won over the ski slopes with nearly two thirds of travellers landing somewhere warmer than London.

Even before the leap year lift of 207,000 passengers on February 29, Heathrow is on track to serve more passengers this year than ever before. Meanwhile, cargo tonnage is 21% up on 2023, outperforming European comparators and the global average of 8%.

New route additions include more services to the very north of the UK with Loganair, BA routes to Abu Dhabi, Kos and Izmir, a new Virgin Atlantic service to Bangalore and the return of Vueling to Barcelona and Paris (Orly), in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

However, while hailing the upturn in traffic, the airport couldn’t help having a dig at the UK government over last week’s Spring Budget.

Heathrow claims that the Chancellor “missed the opportunity to back British business at the Spring Budget, prioritising short-term decisions over policies that would deliver the growth and jobs the UK economy needs”.

It also states that “instead, he raised taxes on aviation with no ring-fencing for the green transition”.

Talking about the airport’s performance and government decisions, Heathrow CEO, Thomas Woldbye, said: “It was wonderful to welcome so many passengers for the first holiday peak of 2024, setting a new Heathrow record.

“While we are serving more people, visitors to the UK are spending less since the removal of tax-free shopping, impacting businesses across the country. The Spring Budget was a missed opportunity to give the whole tourism, hospitality and retail sector the support it needs to compete internationally.”

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