Heathrow Airport posted an eye-watering £2bn full-year loss and called on UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide supportive measures for the sector in next week’s budget.
The airport is asking the Chancellor to provide 100% business rates relief, extend the furlough scheme and reverse the tourist tax.
It added that economic recovery will be held back until long haul passenger flights are restarted, especially to key markets such as the US.
The hub has invested in COVID-secure technologies and testing facilities for up to 25,000 passengers a day to help restore international travel safely.
It also cut gross operating costs by nearly £400mln, reduced capital expenditure by £700mln and raised £2.5bn in funding including a £600mln capital injection, concluding 2020 with £3.9bn of liquidity, enough to survive until 2023.
Full-year passenger numbers collapsed 73% to 22mln, more than half of whom travelled in January and February, and cargo volumes were down 28%.
Revenue plunged 62% to £1.1bn while the £546mln profit before tax posted in 2019 turned into a £2bn loss.
The public is longing for holidays, as proved by a spike in demand after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday.
TUI (LON:TUI) had its best day of bookings in over a month, while Thomas Cook saw traffic rocketing 100% on its website.
Flight and holiday bookings zoomed up 337% and 630% respectively for easyJet (LON:EZJ).
“The obstacle to overcome to see sustained recovery for the travel industry is that vaccine roll outs and infection rates are erratic in different parts of the world,” analysts at Hargreaves Lansdown noted.
“It’s no surprise that Heathrow Airport has joined the clamour of calls for a common international standard for travel, to try and get the industry back on an even footing.”