Emerging markets boost Heathrow Airport

Emerging markets boost Heathrow Airport

A surge in passengers flying into Heathrow from emerging markets resulted in a record number of people passing through the airport's doors last year.

The west London hub announced that almost 75 million people used the airport during 2015, an increase of 2.2% on 2014.

The growth was driven by emerging markets, with passenger volumes up 14% to China, 8% to Latin America and 6% to the Middle East.

Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: "2015 has been a banner year for Heathrow, serving more passengers than ever and being recognised in a number of awards as the best major airport in Europe for both passenger service and eco-innovation.

"The record levels of passenger satisfaction are due to a significant increase in training, apprenticeships and the number of frontline colleagues moving into management roles."

Last month the government put off a decision on whether to support expansion at Heathrow until at least the summer while ministers carry out further examination of issues such as air quality and noise pollution.

The Davies Commission concluded in July that a third runway at Heathrow was the best option - if a string of measures were put in place to deal with noise and pollution - but left open the option of expanding capacity at Gatwick instead.

The government is also considering a plan to extend the existing northern runway at Heathrow to form the equivalent of two runways.

Holland-Kaye added: "Our new expansion plan will make Heathrow the most sustainable hub airport, and Britain the best connected country in the world. We are ready to serve."

The Sunday Times reported that Heathrow has distributed £2.1bn in dividends to its owners over the past four years but paid just £24m in corporation tax in almost a decade.

An airport spokeswoman said the group had taken advantage of government tax breaks offered to companies to encourage investment.

She added that this approach has led to an £11bn upgrade of the airport and insisted that Heathrow "contributes fairly to the UK public purse".