AOA response to comments on Heathrow Airport in The Sunday Times

Commenting on reports in The Sunday Times regarding Heathrow Airport, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, Chair of the Airport Operators Association (AOA) and former President of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“I was very disappointed to read the unfavourable and unjustified comments regarding Heathrow Airport today in The Sunday Times. There were no easy answers when the pandemic shut down our industry overnight and the UK aviation sector is far more complex and fragmented than Middle Eastern hubs where airlines, airports and ground handlers are all owned by the state and funded through public subsidy instead of private finance.

“Heathrow and all other UK airports did not receive the funding they required from the UK Government. Heathrow went from one of the world’s busiest airports, to a business that lost £5m a day, and over £4bn in total, during the pandemic. The fact that it has scaled-up more than any other European hub after being cut off from most markets during COVID and receiving absolutely zero state subsidy is a huge achievement for the UK – and to do so with passenger service scores now almost on par with 2019 levels is even better.

“In the face of huge uncertainty Heathrow acted to protect colleagues and retain jobs for everyone on the frontline who wanted one – not all businesses can say this – and it continues to grow its infrastructure and provide career opportunities to anyone who wants to work at the UK’s only hub airport.

“It is time for the whole aviation industry to work together and of course there will be challenges as the industry rebuilds, but instead of attempting to influence the CAA around airport charges, the focus should be on ensuring passengers have confidence in the industry and the service we all provide. The UK aviation industry is one we can all be immensely proud of, let’s never forget what we have just been through, and I urge everyone to work together at this time.”