Heathrow suffers £2bn loss in 2020 as ‘air travel fell to level of the 1970s’

Heathrow Airport has lost a whopping £2 billion as Covid saw passenger numbers plunge to levels not seen since the 70s.

The shock figures come as experts warned Turkey and Russia have taken over Britain's top spot for European aviation.

Heathrow chief John Holland-Kaye on Wednesday revealed it suffered a £2 billion annual loss after passenger numbers collapsed by 73% during the pandemic.

The group’s hefty pre-tax loss for 2020 compared with profits of £546 million in 2019.

Figures showed the number of jet-setters passing through the airport dropped to 22.1 million last year from 80.9 million in 2019.

Most of those travelled last January and February before the Covid-19 crisis struck, Heathrow said.

The group is urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to deliver measures to support the stricken sector in next week’s Budget.

It has called for 100% business rates relief, an extension of the furlough scheme and to revive VAT-free shopping for tourists to the UK.

Mr Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, said: “2020 has been one of our most challenging years – but despite £2 billion of losses and shrinking to passenger levels we haven’t seen since the 70s, I am hugely proud of the way that our colleagues have kept our passengers safe and the UK’s hub airport open for vital supplies throughout.

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“We can be hopeful for 2021, with Britain on the cusp of becoming the first country in the world to safely resume international travel and trade at scale.

“Getting aviation moving again will save thousands of jobs and reinvigorate the economy, and Heathrow will be working with the Global Travel Taskforce to develop a robust plan underpinned by science and backed by industry.”

It comes after experts warned Britain had lost its top spot for European aviation to Turkey and Russia.

New research of passenger data revealed Istanbul and Moscow were far ahead of London last December, the Independent reports.

The analysis was carried by former network planner at easyJet and Go Ralph Anker, who is now editor of the Anker Report aviation newletter.

The analysis was carried by former network planner at easyJet and Go Ralph Anker, who is now editor of the Anker Report aviation newletter.

He ranked more than 400 airports using a year-on-year passenger statistics from April to December 2020.

And concluded that Turkey was the "clear winner ahead of Russia" with Moscow enjoying a "clear lead" over London, the newspaper reported.

Across European cities, the first three top spots for busiest airports went to Turkey's Istanbul, Sabiha Gokcen, and Antalya airports.

The next three were Moscow's Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo hubs, with Heathrow taking seventh place just ahead of Paris's CDG.

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