Heathrow airport sees record passenger numbers ahead of summer rush

Heathrow has just experienced its busiest ever May  (Getty Images)
Heathrow has just experienced its busiest ever May (Getty Images)

A record number of passengers travelled through Heathrow in the last 12 months as its boss claims that they have put the chaos caused by the pandemic “firmly behind” them.

The UK’s busiest airport said 81.5 million passengers passed through its terminals in the year to the end of May 2024.

This compared with 71.6 million in the previous year. Heathrow expects this summer to see more records broken, with an estimated 30 million passengers.

The latest figures come after the west London airport had its busiest May ever, with 7.2 million passengers – compared with 6.7 million in May 2023.

“We have a winning team at Heathrow which has proven that we have put Covid firmly behind us,” said, Thomas Woldbye, the airport’s chief executive.

“Thanks to their extraordinary efforts we are now giving record numbers of people the chance to connect smoothly with the world.

“Supporting 81 million journeys doesn’t just help families to make wonderful holiday memories, importantly it is about the vital trade and business links a hub like Heathrow creates for the UK’s economy.”

Double digit year-on-year percentage growth in passengers was recorded for routes connecting Heathrow with other parts of the UK and Europe, as well as North America and the Asia/Pacific region.

Simon Calder, The Independent’s travel correspondent, said: “The UK’s biggest hub is extracting more business from extremely constrained infrastructure.

“The prime minister’s incentive for passengers to move from rail to air – by halving Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights – is clearly having results, with a 17 per cent surge in the number of travellers on flights within the UK.

“The only region to do better is Asia, reflecting the opening up of China.”

Heathrow has also released figures on the performance of Terminal 2, The Queen’s Terminal, which this summer celebrates 10 years since opening.

During the last decade, it has seen 148 million passengers traveling to more than 30 different countries on over a million flights.