Heathrow Airport sees 37 million passengers in first half of 2023

An aircraft climbs out of London Heathrow airport.
Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport.
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read

London Heathrow Airport has seen a robust beginning to 2023, with an impressive influx of 37 million passengers in the first half of the year. This surge in passenger numbers was accompanied by some of the busiest days ever recorded.

Despite facing challenges posed by the ongoing cost of living crisis, the airport is striving to ensure that the majority of travellers wait for less than five minutes at security during the summer peak.

A significant milestone has been reached with the conclusion of a fair two-year pay deal for all frontline colleagues, enhancing the overall experience for both passengers and employees.

Heathrow: Connecting Britain to global growth

As a gateway to the world, Heathrow Airport now offers passengers a plethora of choices, with over 225 destinations available this summer.

Airlines have been actively expanding their routes and frequencies to Heathrow, further cementing its position as the best gateway in Europe for flights to the United States.

With an impressive 248 daily flights to 31 US destinations, travellers have ample options to explore America’s diverse cities.

Additionally, Heathrow boasts better connectivity to India and China than its European hub competitors.


The airport’s ongoing efforts to expand connections have resulted in the addition of new routes, including a British Airways service to Cincinnati, JetBlue’s increased service to New York, and the allocation of slots to LATAM for a new non-stop connection to Lima, Peru.

Investment in passenger services

As Heathrow awaits the outcome of the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) appeal, the airport is gearing up for the next phase of its investment to improve passenger service.

With plans to invest up to £3.7 billion in passenger improvements, Heathrow aims to enhance the travel experience for all its customers. Part of this investment will be directed towards replacing the Terminal 2 baggage system and streamlining security procedures across all terminals.

By addressing key infrastructure areas, Heathrow Airport seeks to maintain its status as Britain’s premier hub for global travel.

Steadily reducing losses

Heathrow Airport has made significant progress in reducing losses, with adjusted losses before tax shrinking to £139 million in the first half of 2023.

While this is a commendable improvement, the airport remains lossmaking due to the CAA’s decision to set a revenue allowance too low in the H7 regulatory settlement, resulting in insufficient cash flow. As a consequence, the airport has filed an appeal to address this issue.

Despite the financial challenges, Heathrow’s balance sheet remains robust, with gearing well below pre-pandemic levels and a substantial £4 billion in liquidity, providing stability for the foreseeable future.

Notably, there are no forecasts for dividends in 2023, indicating a prudent financial approach to navigate the current circumstances.

Sustainability in the Aviation Industry

Heathrow Airport has taken the lead in environmental sustainability, becoming the first airport worldwide to issue a sustainability-linked bond. The bond sets ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions from both aircraft and ground operations.

The airport’s commitment to sustainability is further demonstrated by Virgin Atlantic’s forthcoming flight from Heathrow to JFK, which will be powered entirely by Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Heathrow urges policymakers to support the development of a domestic sustainable aviation fuels industry, creating green jobs, reducing costs for UK consumers, and contributing to achieving net-zero carbon emissions targets.

Leadership transition

After nine successful years as CEO, John Holland-Kaye will step down from his role in October.

During his tenure, Holland-Kaye has overseen a transformation in customer service at Heathrow, cultivated a strong and diverse team, garnered parliamentary backing for expansion plans, and established the airport as a global leader in sustainability.

His successor, Thomas Woldbye, brings invaluable experience from his time as the head of Copenhagen Airport, where he played a pivotal role in making it the preferred hub for passengers in Northern Europe.

This leadership transition ensures a seamless continuation of Heathrow’s growth and dedication to excellence.

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