Britain's Heathrow sinks to $2.8bln loss during pandemic

During 2020 passenger numbers shrunk 73% to 22mln people

  
Passengers from international flights arrive at Heathrow Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, July 29, 2020.

Passengers from international flights arrive at Heathrow Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, July 29, 2020.

REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON - Britain's Heathrow Airport plunged to a 2 billion pound ($2.8 billion) annual loss after passenger numbers collapsed to levels last seen in the 1970s during the pandemic.

Heathrow called on the government to agree a common international travel standard to allow passengers to start flying again in the summer and to provide business tax breaks for airports to help them ride out the crisis.

The airport, west of London, is hopeful that travel markets will reopen from mid-May after a government announcement on easing lockdown on Monday.

Still Britain's biggest airport, Heathrow last year lost its title as the busiest in Europe to Paris as its flight schedules contracted more than its rival's.

The airport said on Wednesday that during 2020 passenger numbers shrunk 73% to 22 million people, with half of those people having travelled during January and February before COVID-19 shut down global travel.

The airport sunk to a 2 billion loss before tax on revenues which were down 62% to 1.18 billion pounds, but Heathrow said it had 3.9 billion pounds of liquidity and that could keep it going until 2023.

The airport is owned by Spain's Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp, among others.

($1 = 0.7044 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and James Davey) ((sarah.young@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 1109; Reuters Messaging: sarah.young.thomsonreuters@reuters.net))


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