Paris now Europe’s largest airport, says Heathrow

LONDON (AFP) – London Heathrow said yesterday that Paris Charles de Gaulle has overtaken it to become Europe’s largest airport in terms of passenger numbers, blaming delayed coronavirus testing and travel restrictions.

“For the first time, Paris Charles de Gaulle has overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s largest airport, with Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt close behind,” Heathrow said in a trading update, warning that the United Kingdom (UK) has ceded commercial advantage.

“All three continental rivals have implemented testing regimes. The UK government has announced an intention to introduce testing for passengers from high risk countries by December 1 to help restart the UK economy.”

Heathrow also slashed its demand forecast for the next two years due to resurgent COVID-19 infections and ongoing restrictions.

The hub, which lies west of the British capital, added that it now expects to carry 22.6 million passengers in 2020 and 37.1 million in 2021. Those compared with the group’s prior forecasts of 29.2 million and 62.8 million respectively.

“The reduction is caused by the second wave of COVID and slow progress on introducing testing by the UK government to reopen borders with ‘high risk’ countries,” the company added.

Heathrow is owned by a consortium led by Spanish construction giant Ferrovial and comprising sovereign wealth funds from China, Singapore and Qatar.