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Heathrow takes steps to combat COVID-19 - Results for the 6 months ended 30th June 2020


3 min read Partner content

Today’s results should serve as a clarion call for the Government – the UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast.

  • Safety remains our biggest priority We are deploying UK’s most extensive array of new COVID-secure technologies to protect passengers and colleagues.
  • Significant passenger decline pushes Heathrow to loss - Passenger numbers were down over 96% in Q2 as global aviation came to a virtual standstill. We anticipate a gradual recovery as countries reopen borders, but that 2020 passenger volumes will be more than 60% lower than 2019. Q2 revenue fell 85% to £119 million and adjusted EBITDA turned to a loss of £93 million. We recorded an adjusted loss before tax of £471 million in the first six months of 2020.​
  • Cargo volumes down over 30%, hit by loss of passenger flights – Cargo at the UK’s biggest port usually travels in the hold of passenger planes. Increase in cargo-only flights has not offset the loss of passenger flights to long haul markets. 
  • Decisive action taken to protect jobs and cut costs – We acted quickly to reduce our average cash burn by over 30%, by cutting at least £300 million operating costs and cancelling or pausing over £650m of capital projects. We have tried to protect as many jobs as possible and maintain pay at or above the London Living Wage.
  • Heathrow finances remain robust - Cash reserves are sufficient until at least June 2021 with no revenue. We have agreed a waiver on financial covenants until the end of 2021 and maintained our Investment Grade credit rating status. 
  • UK’s economic recovery depends on restarting aviation - Government’s risk-based approach to allow quarantine-free flights from low and medium risk countries is very welcome, but only covers 30% of Heathrow’s markets. Establishing an alternative to quarantine for COVID-free passengers from other countries should be a priority for Government. Pre-flight testing for passengers from high risk countries will allow long haul flying to resume, which is critical for the UK’s economic recovery. 

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Today’s results should serve as a clarion call for the Government – the UK needs a passenger testing regime and fast. Without it, Britain is just playing a game of quarantine roulette. As many of our customers have experienced, it’s difficult to plan a holiday that way, let alone run a business. Testing offers a way to safely open up travel and trade to some of the UK’s biggest markets which currently remain closed. Our European competitors are racing ahead with passenger testing, if the UK doesn’t act soon global Britain will be nothing more than a campaign slogan.”   

Engineering a Better World

The Engineering a Better World podcast series from The House magazine and the IET is back for series two! New host Jonn Elledge discusses with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

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Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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