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Heathrow takes steps to combat COVID-19

Posted 29 July 2020 · Add Comment

With safety remaining Heathrow's biggest priority, it is deploying the UK’s most extensive array of new COVID-secure technologies to protect passengers and colleagues.

Image courtesy Heathrow

UK’s economic recovery depends on restarting aviation. Heathrow stressed that the UK 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.
It said stablishing 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.

Significant passenger decline pushes Heathrow to loss, with passenger numbers down over 96% in Q2 as global aviation came to a virtual standstill. Heathrow anticipates 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. Heathrow has recorded an adjusted loss before tax of £471 million in the first six months of 2020.​

Cargo volumes at Heathrow are down over 30%, hit by loss of passenger flights, as 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.

Heathrow acted quickly to reduce its average cash burn by over 30%, by cutting at least £300 million operating costs and cancelling or pausing over £650m of capital projects. It has tried to protect as many jobs as possible and maintain pay at or above the London Living Wage.

Heathrow finances remain robust. Its cash reserves are sufficient until at least June 2021 with no revenue. Heathrow have agreed a waiver on financial covenants until the end of 2021 and maintained our Investment Grade credit rating status.

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.”

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