Heathrow Breaks Passenger Record For Second Consecutive Month

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2A, check-in hall, November 2015.
Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport boasted another record-breaking month in March, welcoming nearly seven million passengers.

This marks the second consecutive month of passenger volume surpassing previous highs in 2024.

Busy Easter Weekend

The bank holiday weekend in March contributed significantly, with over 936,000 passengers using Heathrow – the busiest Easter on record.

Good Friday saw the most significant single day of departures ever, with 118,000 passengers starting their journeys from the airport.

Passenger satisfaction remains high, with over 94% rating their overall Heathrow experience as “Good” or “Excellent” in March.

As the summer season approaches, the airport prioritizes maintaining smooth and efficient operations.

Ongoing investments aim to optimize existing infrastructure, including a £1 billion upgrade to 146 security scanners and improvements to the Terminal 2 baggage system.

These efforts will expedite passenger processes and enhance overall resilience.

An aircraft is marshalled to a parking bay at Heathrow airport.
Photo: Heathrow Airport

Concerns Regarding Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs)

Heathrow acknowledged the general reasoning behind Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs) scheme. The scheme imposes a £10 fee for all international travelers without UK residency to enter or transit through the country.

In their latest release, the London airport has expressed concerns with the new fee arrangement.

Specifically, applying ETAs to airside transit passengers could place UK airports at a competitive disadvantage compared to European hubs.

Early signs suggest a negative impact. Since the introduction of ETAs, Qatar Airways has seen a drop of 19,000 transit passengers in the first four months.

This route has experienced its lowest monthly transit volumes in over a decade since the ETA implementation.

Interior view of Heathrow Airport terminal.
Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport

Maintaining Global Connectivity

This decline in transit passengers poses a significant challenge to UK competitiveness. Many long-haul routes crucial to the country’s economy, exports, and broader international connections rely heavily on transit passengers.

As the scheme expands, attracting connecting passengers to choose alternative hubs becomes more likely. The London airport has urged government officials to take action and exempt airside transit passengers from the ETA requirement.

London Heathrow Handles 6.6m Passengers in December
Photo Credit: London Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow CEO Statement

Heathrow CEO Thomas Woldbye emphasized the airport’s commitment to becoming an exceptional, future-proof facility.

He highlighted the progress made in 2024, facilitating smooth journeys for record-breaking passenger numbers. However, Woldbye stressed the importance of government intervention to maintain this momentum.

Exempting airside transit passengers from the ETA scheme is crucial to avoid encouraging travelers to spend and conduct business elsewhere.

Woldbye concluded by emphasizing the need for a level playing field to ensure the UK aviation industry remains world-class.

April Sees Executive Team Change

Looking to the current month, London Heathrow will see a senior executive position change.

After 15 years at Heathrow, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Emma Gilthorpe, has decided to leave Heathrow and will be taking on the role as the CEO of the Royal Mail from 1 May.

Emma’s last day at Heathrow will be 26 April. Drawing on the strength of internal talent, the airport announced that Javier Echave, currently Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will take over from Emma and become our new COO from 26 April.

Sally Ding, currently the Director of Treasury & Corporate Finance, will be acting CFO whilst a permanent recruitment process gets underway.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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