Heathrow Airport: Small adjusted profit recorded for the first time since 2019

Heathrow enjoyed a strong 2023, with passenger numbers recovering to 79.2 million – the third-highest year in Heathrow’s history.
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The UK’s hub outperformed all other European hubs by being rated as the ‘best airport in Europe’, claimed the title of the world’s ‘most connected’ hub and broke into the top five largest airports in the world.

These achievements are a great credit to the teamwork and commitment of colleagues across Team Heathrow and set a strong foundation for 2024 as we attempt to welcome a record 81.4 million – more passengers than ever before.

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A strong Q4 performance helped Heathrow reach its first adjusted profit in four years with £38 million adjusted profit before tax.

Heathrow enjoyed a strong 2023, with passenger numbers recovering to 79.2 million – the third-highest year in Heathrow’s history. Picture by Andy CatterallHeathrow enjoyed a strong 2023, with passenger numbers recovering to 79.2 million – the third-highest year in Heathrow’s history. Picture by Andy Catterall
Heathrow enjoyed a strong 2023, with passenger numbers recovering to 79.2 million – the third-highest year in Heathrow’s history. Picture by Andy Catterall

Heathrow’s balance sheet remains strong, with gearing below pre-pandemic levels and £3.8 billion of liquidity.

Airport charges were reduced by 20% in real terms at the start of 2024 in line with the Civil Aviation Authority’s H7 settlement, which means maintaining even a small profit will require the airport to close a £400 million gap with efficiencies and investment trade-offs over the next three years.

Heathrow are finalising a refreshed business strategy, which will be shared in the months ahead. No dividends were paid in 2023, and none are currently forecast for 2024, although it is plausible subject to financial performance. Heathrow will continue to review optionality through the year.

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Behind-the-scenes investments are underway across the airport to boost passenger experience and operational resilience. Heathrow are upgrading 146 security lanes as part of their £1 billion investment in next generation security equipment, and the airport have appointed a lead contractor to replace the Terminal 2 baggage system.

Significant strides were made towards the airport’s Heathrow 2.0 commitments, including launching the Giving Back Programme which will deliver activities to nearly 100,000 local people.

Record amounts of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) were used at Heathrow during 2023, including powering the inaugural 100% SAF transatlantic flight, and Heathrow committed to incentivising the use of up to 155,000 tonnes of SAF in 2024.

Heathrow CEO Thomas Woldbye said: “2023 was a good year for Heathrow from a challenging start to a great finish – We delivered much improved service for our customers, and managed to turn a small profit after three consecutive years of losses.

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“That’s a great platform to build on, although in 2024, we are expected to deliver even further improved service to more passengers, but with airport charges cut by 20% in real terms.

“We will have to pull every lever to become more efficient and make tough choices on where we spend and invest our money to overcome the huge cost challenge set by the CAA and remain profitable over the next three years.”

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