The head of Heathrow Airport has asked the British government to accelerate talks with the United States on the creation of a “Pilot Air Bridge” in time for Thanksgiving on November 26th.
“We absolutely can,” said John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Chief Executive said the BBC.
“The US side is dynamic – they want to open their borders again. I think there is a preference that the UK should be the first market to reopen. We know the UK government is interested. “
His comments came when Heathrow revealed it had lost its position as Europe’s busiest airport for the first time after being overtaken by Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport after the unprecedented collapse in global air travel demand.
London Airport recorded an 84% drop in passenger numbers in the three months to September as the company’s losses increased 1.5 billion pounds ($ 1.94 billion) by 2020.
In the first nine months of the year, approximately 19 million passengers used Heathrow, a decrease of 69% compared to 61 million in the same period last year. Compared to 19.3 million passengers using Charles de Gaulle in the French capital, this was a 67% decrease from the 58 million in 2019.
Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt are close behind, Heathrow said in a trade statement, adding that all three continental rivals have introduced test regimes.
Holland-Kaye said the UK had fallen behind because it was too slow to run passenger tests.
“European leaders have acted faster and now their economies are reaping the benefits. Paris has overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s largest airport for the first time, and Frankfurt and Amsterdam are rapidly gaining ground, ”he said.
“We are bringing in COVID tests before departure and are working with our allies in the US to open one Pilot airlift America will boost our economic recovery and put Britain in front of our European rivals again, ”he said in a statement.
But he said the industry needed a commitment that this would happen.
Last week, Heathrow launched the UK’s first pre-departure test facility, which will allow passengers flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong and Italy to get quick COVID-19 tests before check-in.
The test, which can be booked online, costs £ 80 ($ 104) and results will be available in 60 minutes.
International consolidated airlines
owned by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic (49% owned by Delta Air Lines
) and Cathay Pacific
are the first airlines to offer the test facility.
Heathrow revenue in the third quarter decreased 72% to £ 239 million compared to the same period last year. The airport said passenger numbers are estimated at 22.6 million in 2020 and 37.1 million in 2021, compared to the June forecast of £ 29.2 million and 62.8 million among the 81 Millions in 2019.
The results come just a day after industrial trade organization ACI Europe warned that if passenger traffic does not recover by the end of the year, nearly 200 airports in Europe will face financial collapse in the coming months.
ACI Europe said the top 20 European airports have added Debt of EUR 16 billionThis equates to nearly 60% of their earnings in a normal year as they turn to financial markets to prop up their balance sheets and build emergency boxes to weather the crisis.
In October, Heathrow raised another £ 1.4bn in global bond markets.