Passengers increase by 2% as Heathrow sets 1st quarter record


By Heathrow

Published 28th April 2017

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A record 17.2 million passengers travelled through Heathrow in the first three months of 2017, marking a 2.2% increase and leading the airport to consider upgrading its full year forecasts.

Alongside the passenger surge, Heathrow also saw a staggering 7.3% increase in cargo volumes for the quarter. With both passenger numbers and cargo increasing, Heathrow recorded a robust financial performance as well, reflecting continued improvement in costs and strong retail momentum.

Revenue for the first quarter was up 2.0% to £655 million, with operating costs per passenger down 2.9% and Adjusted EBITDA up 4.1% to £382 million.

Heathrow continued to also drive better value for its passengers too, with airport charges falling by 2.2% in Q1 and the airport ranked as Europe’s best hub for the third consecutive year.

New routes and Heathrow 2.0

Heathrow continues to deliver for Britain’s economy with new Flybe services to Scotland launched, driving more choice for passengers on domestic routes, and additional China Southern flights announced which are set to boost Britain’s export capacity to China.

The airport has also launched a new world-class sustainability strategy, Heathrow 2.0, which underscores Heathrow’s commitment to being an even better neighbour and driving innovation in the industry

“2017 shaping up to be our best year ever”

With up to 40 new long-haul connections, an expanded Heathrow secures Britain’s export-led future. Delivery is on-track and Heathrow’s first planning consultation launches later this year.

John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive Officer of Heathrow, said, “When Heathrow succeeds, Britain benefits and 2017 is shaping up to be our best year ever. Our new domestic airline Flybe is already driving more choice for passengers on Scottish routes and surging trade is boosting jobs across Britain.

Britain is plotting a new course in the world and expanding Heathrow is more important than ever to ensure its success. It will make our country the best connected in the world and secure our export-led future. We’re getting on with delivering it and look forward to opening Britain’s new runway in 2025.

– Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye

Do you support Heathrow expansion? Make your voice heard in minutes, here.

Heathrow has today confirmed that Beijing Capital Airlines will launch a new direct service from the UK’s hub airport to Qingdao, the home of Tsingtao beer and one of the fastest growing cities in China. The new route will connect passengers and cargo directly from Heathrow to Qingdao for the first time, providing three direct services every week starting this summer.

The new route has been put in place following the UK and the Chinese Governments’ successful negotiation last year to significantly increase the number of permitted flights between the two countries. The new agreement also lifted previous restrictions limiting airlines to serving 6 destinations in each country, opening up the potential for more trade with a host of Chinese powerhouse cities.

The new route to Qingdao will provide nearly 70,000 extra seats every year for passengers travelling to and from China and provide nearly 4,000 tonnes of new cargo space for British exports to the Shandong province, an economic powerhouse of China with a population of nine million people, similar to London’s.

China is now the world’s largest economy and its megacities offer a huge and expanding market for UK business. Qingdao has been ranked as a “golden city” by the World Bank, due to its investment climate and is a major port, manufacturing base and home to Tsingtao, the best-known Chinese beer export.

Heathrow set to have direct connections to four cities in mainland China…

With this new service, Heathrow will have direct connections to four cities in mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Qingdao) – but there are 10 others that can be flown to from EU rival hubs.

As well as benefitting from additional routes, Germany exports over $29 billion of goods to China by air, compared to the UK’s $4.6 billion. Today’s announcement of an additional direct route from Heathrow to China provides the opportunity and extra capacity for UK businesses to be able to compete more effectively with European rivals.

This announcement follows seven years of engagement between Heathrow and Beijing Capital’s parent company, Hainan Airlines Group. In 2014, the Chinese ambassador wrote to then Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling for Heathrow expansion, arguing that expansion at the UK’s hub was required to facilitate more routes and increased frequency of direct flights between China and the UK – flights airlines argue are not sustainable from point-to-point airports, which rely on local demand alone to make routes viable.

In 2014, the Chinese ambassador wrote to then Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling for Heathrow expansion, arguing that expansion at the UK’s hub was required to facilitate more routes and increased frequency of direct flights between China and the UK – flights airlines argue are not sustainable from point-to-point airports, which rely on local demand alone to make routes viable.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said, “As the UK’s gateway to the world, we are delighted to welcome Beijing Capital Airlines and the tremendous, previously untapped opportunities of the Qingdao market for British business. In the future, the UK’s ability to trade in the world will rely on direct access to new, expanding markets like these.”

But this is only the start. With expansion, Heathrow will provide British exporters access to up to 40 new long-haul destinations across the globe – including more Chinese cities- and send a powerful message that Britain is open for business and our future is stronger as a global, outward looking, trading nation.

– Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye

Xu Jun, CEO of Beijing Capital Airlines, said, “We are pleased and honoured to have this chance to strengthen the connection between the UK and China. This new route will offer more convenient and comfortable travel service to citizens in both countries than any previous experience flying from Heathrow to Qingdao.”

And it also will be a starting point for us to continually increase the UK’s transportation capacity and further expand the UK tourism market. With the launch of the Heathrow route, we hope to contribute to the economic and culture exchange for the benefits of both countries.

– Beijing Capital Airlines CEO, Xu Jun

Do you support Heathrow expansion? Make your voice heard in minutes, here.

Heathrow has today released its results for March highlighted by record passenger numbers and cargo volumes – including the largest monthly cargo growth in over 5 years.

Global British trade at Heathrow soared in March, with volumes surging nearly 13% to 148,000 metric tonnes – the largest monthly growth in over 5 years. As the UK’s largest port, Heathrow is a key enabler of British trade handling over 30% of non-EU exports and more cargo by value than all other UK airports combined.

Long-haul emerging markets remained a driver of cargo performance, with key markets in March including Mexico (+28%), Brazil (+13%), India (+9%) and China (+5%) as well as impressive growth to Indonesia (up over 9,000%) after Garuda Indonesia moved to Heathrow from Gatwick last year.

China Southern also confirmed during the month that it will double cargo capacity on one of Britain’s most strategic trading routes when it launches an additional service to Guangzhou in June, further boosting export opportunities for British business.

Passenger numbers up 5%, including strong growth in domestic traffic…

Flybe’s new services to Scotland proved popular with passengers as domestic traffic at Heathrow jumped 4.4% in March. The Flybe flights improve passenger choice on key Scottish routes and follow Heathrow’s reduction in domestic passenger charges by a third earlier this year.

Flybe at Heathrow! With up to four daily services to Edinburgh and three to Aberdeen, the new Flybe flights open up a huge network of onward global connections for travellers from Scotland as well as making it easier for inbound tourists and investors to visit Scotland’s capital and the Granite City.

Adjusting for different Easter timings, overall passenger volumes were up nearly 5% in March with a record 6.16m passengers travelling through the UK’s hub, driven by growth to East Asia (+8%), Latin America (+7%) and the Middle East (+6%) in addition to strong domestic volumes.

Fresh ComRes polling revealed an overwhelming 77% of MPs back Heathrow expansion, with Parliament convinced a third runway is the most critical infrastructure project to secure Britain’s future prosperity ahead of HS2 and Hinkley Point C.

Heathrow clinched the ‘Best Airport in Western Europe’ award for an impressive third consecutive year at the prestigious annual Skytrax Awards, underscoring the airport’s commitment to delivering best-in-class passenger service.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said, “Surging trade, more domestic connections and more long-haul growth are the bedrock of the UK’s economy. Today’s figures put Britain in a strong position as the Government begins Brexit negotiations and underline the unique role Heathrow plays as the nation’s global gateway.“

Our expansion plans will give Britain the tools to do even better. We’ll double our domestic connections and add up to 40 new long-haul trading links, making the UK the best connected country on earth. It’s a huge prize that only Heathrow delivers and we’re getting on with securing it for Britain.

– Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye

Do you support Heathrow expansion? Make your voice heard in minutes, here.

With Heathrow expecting a record 868,000 passengers over Easter weekend and 200,000 extra families set to travel, the UK’s hub airport today announced its Little Linguists initiative, which aims to inspire children to learn new languages.

  • 868,000 passengers expected to travel through the airport over Easter weekend with 200,000 extra families set to travel through Heathrow

  • French, German and Mandarin identified by economic experts as the languages Britain’s children should learn for optimum success in ten years’ time

  • 45% of British parents admit their children can’t speak a second language yet language skills will add £500 billion to the UK economy in the next ten years

In partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research and Opinium, Heathrow has studied the role languages currently play in children’s lives as well as identifying the languages children should learn to set them up for maximum opportunities in adulthood.

The findings revealed French, German and Mandarin as the three languages that should be learnt to best set kids up for life in ten years’ time, with language skills expected to add up to £500 billion to the economy by 2027.

In a new survey of over 2,000 UK adults with children under 18, results found that kids up and down the country aren’t making the most of the opportunities languages present them with. Nearly half (45%) of parents have children who can’t speak a second language*, with nearly one in five children (19%) not interested in learning new languages while one in ten (10%) say they find it too difficult.

The overwhelming majority (85%) of parents believe it is important for children to speak a second language. More than one in four (27%) suggest that this will enhance career opportunities and boost employability benefitting from more opportunity to pursue careers overseas.

Heathrow’s “Little Linguists” initiative launched…

To help inspire children to learn new languages, Heathrow has developed the ‘Little Linguists’ initiative, working with founder of Bilingualism Matters and Professor of Developmental Linguistics at Edinburgh University, Antonella Sorace. The airport has created packs of Mr Adventure themed flashcards, available for families to download online or pick up for free at information desks across all terminals airside over the Easter holidays.

The cards feature a series of simple phrases to introduce kids to French, German and Mandarin. The airports’ Passenger Ambassadors, or ‘Language Ambassadors’ will also be on hand to help kids practice their new skills, speaking 39 languages between them. Families can simply look out for members of the team wearing language ambassador badges who will be ready and willing to help get children practicing their skills.

The airports’ Passenger Ambassadors, or ‘Language Ambassadors’ will also be on hand to help kids practice their new skills, speaking 39 languages between them.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Easter at Heathrow brings huge numbers of families together to discover exciting languages, cultures and experiences. We hope this gives them a fun and educational start to their holiday, and inspires our future generation of little global explorers.”

Professor of Developmental Linguistics at Edinburgh University and Director of Bilingualism Matters, Antonella Sorace said: “This research demonstrates how important language learning is to the UK economy, and shows that many more doors are opened to people who learn a second language as children.”

We believe that language learning is hugely beneficial for children’s development and it’s a real investment for the future: children who are exposed to different languages become more aware of different cultures, other people and other points of view.

– Antonella Sorace

“They also tend to be better than monolinguals at ‘multitasking’ and often are more advanced readers. Bilingualism gives children so much more than just two languages so it’s fantastic to see that Heathrow is helping to get kids inspired about learning languages this Easter.”

As well as the Little Linguists initiative, the airport has a number of family-friendly offers during the Easter holidays, including ‘kids eat free’ at restaurants, soft play areas and appearances by Mr Adventure himself. To learn more about Heathrow’s range of family friendly initiatives visit:

Heathrow’s driverless PODs have helped pave the way for a new trial of driverless shuttles in Greenwich, which began yesterday. The trial is part of the GATEway project, led by TRL, which Heathrow has been a part of.

The below is taken from a release issued by the GATEway Project.

In the latest phase of the GATEway Project (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) a prototype shuttle will begin driverless navigation of a 2km route around the Greenwich Peninsula, using advanced sensors and state-of-the-art autonomy software to detect and avoid obstacles whilst carrying members of the public participating in the research study.

The GATEway Project is a world-leading research programme, led by TRL and funded by government and industry. It aims to demonstrate the use of automated vehicles for ‘last mile’ mobility, seamlessly connecting existing transport hubs with residential and commercial areas using a zero emission, low noise transport system. Research findings from the project will guide the wider roll out of automated vehicle technology in all forms of surface transport, including cars, lorries and buses.

Uniquely, the focus of the study is not the technology but how it functions alongside people in a natural environment. This first trial will explore people’s pre-conceptions of driverless vehicles and barriers to acceptance through detailed interviews with participants before and after they ride in the shuttle.Residents and visitors to the Peninsula are invited to leave feedback via an interactive map.

How do the driverless vehicles work?

The prototype shuttle, dubbed ‘Harry’ (in honour of navigation visionary John Harrison*), uses a state-of-the-art autonomy software system, called Selenium, which enables realtime, robust navigation, planning, and perception in dynamic environments.

Developed by British companies Westfield Sportscars, Heathrow Enterprises and Oxbotica**, the shuttle has no steering wheel or typical driver controls, ‘Harry’ is the UK’s first fully automated shuttle vehicle. Over an eight-hour period of operation, a single GATEway shuttle will collect a massive four terabytes of data – equivalent to 2,000 hours of film or 1.2 million photographs.

The system uses onboard sensors, such as cameras and lasers, to locate itself in its map, perceive and track dynamic obstacles around it, and plan a safe obstacle-free trajectory to the goal. It does this without any reliance on GPS. High data-rate 3D laser range finders are used for obstacle detection and tracking, and an additional safety curtain is used for redundancy in order to maximise safety.

Whilst the GATEway vehicle is designed to operate without a human driver, a safety steward will remain on-board at all times, complying with the UK’s code of practice on automated vehicle testing.

The biggest mobility change since the invention of the combustion engine…

The project will not only see London and the UK emerge as a world leader in automated technology, but provide valuable sociological insight into what is expected to be the most profound change in mobility since the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Professor Nick Reed, Academy Director at TRL commented: “This research is another milestone in the UK’s journey towards driverless vehicles and a vital step towards delivering safer, cleaner and more effective transport in our cities.”

“It is critical that the public are fully involved as these technologies become a reality. The GATEway Project is enabling us to discover how potential users of automated vehicles respond to them so that the anticipated benefits to mobility can be maximised.”

We see automated vehicles as a practical solution to delivering safe, clean, accessible and affordable last-mile mobility. I’m hugely proud of the work that has been undertaken in preparing for these tests and excited to move on to public testing.

– Academy Director at TRL, Professor Nick Reed

About the Heathrow PODs…

The first of its kind in the world, the driver-less and electric PODs system connects a business car park to Terminal 5 and saves more than 70,000 bus journeys annually.

Heathrow POD.

The journey is on demand at the touch of a computer screen, so average waiting time for a pod is 10-15 seconds and 80% of passengers have zero waiting time.

Journey time to and from the Terminal is also around ten minutes (60%) less compared to the original buses.​

Korean Air has become the first carrier at Heathrow to use the new generation “Jumbo jet” – the Boeing 747-8i – on scheduled flights. Find out more about the new Jumbo and see pictures of the aircraft below.

Shortly after 5pm on Saturday, Korean Air flight KE907 touched down at Heathrow following a 12 hour flight from Incheon International Airport in Seoul. This was the first use of a Boeing 747-8i on a scheduled flight at Heathrow and marks another step forward in the use of next generation aircraft at the airport.

The aircraft consumes up to 16% less fuel per seat then its predecessor (747-400), and up to 13% less than the Airbus A380 (Source: Boeing). It is also quieter and cleaner, with fewer CO2 emitted per seat and noise reduced by 5dB across landing and takeoff (cumulative) compared to the 747-400.

Korean Air’s new Boeing 747-8i taking-off at Incheon Airport while a Korean Air Airbus A380 taxis in the background.

Korean Air also use an A380 at Heathrow, which they began using in April last year – becoming the 9th carrier at the airport using the aircraft.

More about the Boeing 747-8i…

  • Engines: 4 x GEnx-2B
  • Length: 76.3m or 250ft
  • Height: 19.4m or 63ft 6 in
  • Wingspan: 68.4m or 224ft 5 inches
  • Passenger capacity: 410 passengers (standard configuration)

More fast facts about the “new Jumbo”:

  • The “new Jumbo” is the world’s fastest commercial jet, capable of flying at Mach 0.86!

  • The 747-8 has been approved for use at more than 271 destination airports around the globe

  • It has 16% more cargo volume capacity than the 747-400.

  • The aircraft can travel the length of 3 FIFA soccer fields in one second!

(Source: Boeing)

China Southern Airlines has confirmed a second daily departure between Heathrow and Guangzhou starting the 1st of June of this year. The airline’s twice daily service, the only direct connection between the UK and southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, is strategically important for a global, outward looking Britain.

The new service will use a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and will lower transfer times to China Southern Airlines’ network of over 120 destinations in China, Japan & Korea, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

The Heathrow / Guangzhou flight schedule

  • CZ604: Leaves London Heathrow at 12.35, arrives at Guangzhou at 07.10; starts from 1st June,

  • CZ603: Leaves Guangzhou at 00.55, arrives at London Heathrow 06.35. starts from 1st June,

  • CZ304: Leaves London Heathrow at 22.35, arrives at Guangzhou at 17.05;

  • CZ303: Leaves Guangzhou at 09.30, arrives at London Heathrow 15.05.

Located just 75 miles up the Pearl River bay from Hong Kong, Guangzhou is one of China’s most vibrant business markets and its biggest port. The addition of this new daily service will boost trade capacity to this booming city, by doubling the cargo space for British exports to up to 8,760 metric tonnes a year.

Over 1.1 million passengers travelled between Heathrow and China last year…

We are delighted to welcome the second service of China Southern Airlines to Heathrow and the benefits of increased connectivity to Guangzhou for our passengers and for British business. Direct connections to thriving markets like these are essential to keeping our country a global, outward looking, trading nation.

– Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye

Heathrow welcomed 1,151,00 passengers flying to and from Chinese destinations in 2016. This is an increase of 7. 3% over the previous year.


By Heathrow

Published 4th April 2017