Heathrow airport has warned that air travel may not recover to pre-Covid levels until 2026 despite improving passenger numbers in the past three months, as it reported that losses since the start of the pandemic have reached £3.4bn, The Guardian reported.
The airport said international travel could be "on the cusp of a recovery" but it faced a "long road ahead", the report said.
Heathrow reported its first quarter of passenger growth since the start of the pandemic as the loosening of restrictions begins to unleash pent-up demand.
Heathrow reported a loss of just over £1bn for the nine months to the end of September, compared with a loss of £786m in the same months last year. The company warned in its results announcement that traffic may not recover fully for up to five years, the report added.
John Holland-Kaye, the Heathrow chief executive, said the UK was "on the cusp of a recovery which will unleash pent-up demand, create new quality jobs and see Britain's trade roar back to life... But it risks a hard landing unless secured for the long haul."
Passenger numbers in the three months to the end of September recovered to 28 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while cargo climbed to 90 per cent of its levels in the equivalent period in 2019.
Despite the increase in recent months, Heathrow's losses have grown over the year as a whole. Passenger numbers for the first nine months reached 10.2 million, compared with 19 million for the same period last year, the report said.