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Travel won’t recover to pre-Covid level till 2026, warns Heathrow

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…reports Asian Lite News.

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.

Latest research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows Europe’s Travel and Tourism sector’s year on year recovery may only achieve a growth of 23.9 per cent this year.

WTTC says this slow recovery is due to travel restrictions throughout the year, particularly in the first half, which continued to hinder the sector’s recovery. Before the pandemic struck, Europe’s Travel and Tourism sector’s contribution to GDP represented €1.92 trillion (9.5 per cent of the total economy). However, according to the research, and based on the current rate of recovery, the sector’s contribution to GDP could see an increase of less than a quarter (23.9 per cent) in 2021, falling behind the expected growth of the global sector of 30.7 per cent.

The data also reveals that in 2022, Travel and Tourism’s contribution to the European economy could see a further year on year rise of 38 per cent, representing an increase of €439 billion. Although far from pre-pandemic levels, the growth of the sector has seen a slight rise due to the successful vaccination rollout, and intra-European mobility, supported by the EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate, which was launched in early July 2021. But with borders closed internationally, Europe has struggled to recover.

The global tourism body says whilst the surge in domestic travel has provided some relief, it is not enough to achieve the full recovery the region needs in order to salvage Europe’s economy and millions of jobs.

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