Featured Image: Ervin Eslami/Airways

London Heathrow Soars in Q1 with Record Traffic

DALLAS — London Heathrow Airport (LHR) has reported a record-breaking first quarter of 2024, exceeding all previous passenger traffic figures.

Heathrow welcomed 18.5 million passengers in Q1, exceeding expectations for this traditionally quieter period of the year. This surge can be attributed to several factors, including:

• Growth on key business routes like Delhi (DEL) and Mumbai (BOM) in India.

• Strong North American traffic, likely fueled by increased demand for transatlantic travel.

• A significant 40% increase in East Asian demand compared to Q1 2023.

Looking ahead, LHR anticipates its busiest summer season ever, with a projected 82.4 million passengers expected to travel through the airport. The first quarter’s performance has led LHR to adjust its 2024 passenger outlook upwards.

Qantas Boeing 787 at London Heathrow. Photo: Ervin Eslami/Airways

Investing in the Future and Efficiency

Beyond record passenger numbers, LHR also stated its focus on long-term growth and operational efficiency. They have launched a refreshed business strategy with the ambition to become "an extraordinary airport, fit for the future."

Significant investments are underway to achieve these goals. A £1 billion next-generation security program is installing 146 lanes across the airport to improve security screening processes.

Additionally, an advanced baggage system is being implemented in Terminal 2, and a major runway resurfacing project is planned to enhance the airport's infrastructure.

China Airlines Airbus A350 Approaching LHR. Photo: Daniel Crawford/Airways

Financial Strength, Policy Concerns

Despite the positive performance, LHR acknowledges challenges. While achieving an £83 million adjusted profit before tax in the first quarter and maintaining strong liquidity, the airport is focused on closing a £400 million gap determined by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

No dividends are planned for 2024, although the situation may be reviewed based on financial performance.

Heathrow also expressed concerns about current government policies that they believe hinder growth and competitiveness. Specifically, they call for a review of the "tourist tax" and unnecessary travel visas for transit passengers, which they believe discourage international visitors and weaken the UK's global aviation hub status.

“It has been a successful start to the year thanks to colleagues delivering a consistent, reliable service to our passengers. As I close the chapter on eight years as CFO, I’m proud that Heathrow is on a strong financial footing with a clear flightpath ahead. On the horizon is Heathrow’s busiest summer yet with more passengers and destinations served than ever before. We’re ready to continue delivering,” said Heathrow CFO Javier Echave.

Pre-order the 2025 Airways Calendar