Heathrow Airport says tourists return but business travel remains weak

London’s Heathrow Airport has recorded its highest number of passengers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but the UK’s Covid-19 infection rate has driven away business and domestic travelers.

Demand rose sharply last month after the UK government lifted restrictions on travel, marking a significant improvement from a “very weak” start to the year, Heathrow said.

“After a very weak January and February, passenger numbers in March were the highest since the start of the pandemic,” Heathrow said.

Demand was fueled by “weekend leisure” and school holiday travel, as Britons love to regain their freedom and many used vouchers from trips canceled because of the pandemic.

“Domestic leisure and business travel remains weak due to high levels of Covid-19 in the UK and pre-return testing requirements,” it said.

Resources at the airport have been “stretched”, it added. Heathrow expects a busy summer with passenger volumes close to 2019’s, prompting the airport to ramp up resources “as quickly as possible” with plans to add 12,000 starters.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, said: “It’s great to see the airport back up and running after two years.

But the airport warned that the risk remained high as “it is not clear whether the increase in demand is sustainable”.

It said high fuel prices, potential new Covid-19 variants and the war in Ukraine pose potential threats in the medium term.

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