Skift Take

Heathrow is expecting a busy few months as the coronation of Britain's King Charles in May adds a spike to expected passenger numbers. This news fuels the irony of the country's king declining one of the airport's terminals to be named after him due to environmental concerns.

Heathrow passenger numbers reached 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter, prompting it to lift 2023 forecasts, the British airport said on Wednesday, adding that it was prepared for a busy summer starting with the coronation of King Charles.

Seeking a slice of the royal action, Britain and Europe’s busiest air travel hub, had wanted to name its Terminal 5 after King Charles but he declined the offer on environmental grounds, the Times reported on Wednesday.

Asked about the matter, Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said the airport was proud of its association with the royal family – Terminal 2 is named the Queen’s terminal – and it would celebrate the May 6 coronation in other ways.

“The naming of infrastructure is a question for the Cabinet Office,” Holland-Kaye told Reuters.

Heathrow now expects between 70 million and 78 million passengers this year, up from the 58 million to 73 million it had forecast in February but not quite catching up with the 81 million passengers in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Strong demand for Caribbean holidays and a recovery in domestic flights lifted passenger numbers in the January to March period. But the company posted a $173 million first-quarter adjusted loss despite the 74 percentage rise in traffic.

The airport blamed landing fees the airport charges airlines, which are set by the sector regulator, saying they were “too low”. It is appealing against the regulator’s decision.

“The airlines have been able to put their prices up,” Holland-Kaye said. “We are still loss-making while the airlines are returning to profit.”

Heathrow’s operations have been resilient despite strikes by security staff in the first part of the year, he said.

Holland-Kaye is due to step down this year after the board has appointed a successor.

(Reporting by Sarah Young Editing by Paul Sandle and David Goodman )

This article was written by Sarah Young from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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Tags: airports, flights, Heathrow Airport, London Heathrow

Photo credit: A view from one of Heathrow Airport's terminals. Source: Tomek Baginski, Unsplash.

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