London Heathrow Airport in the UK reported passenger numbers of 5.48 million in January 2023, more than double the 2.6 million traffic in the same month a year ago. 

The latest figure is said to be the airport’s busiest January since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

This growth is led by Asia / Pacific, which recorded a 181.3% surge in footfall to 764,000 passengers.

China’s scrapping of inbound quarantine for international arrivals on 8 January 2023 contributed to the growth.

London Heathrow Airport said: “We welcome British Airways and Virgin’s announcement on restarting ticket sales to China, reopening a key market for British exports once more.” 

North American passenger volume at the airport jumped 119.7% to 1.2 million in January 2023 while EU traffic soared 135% to 1.62 million.

Outgoing Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said that the airport was ‘back to its best’, even though passenger numbers are still below the January 2020 level of 6.1 million. 

He stated: “Heathrow is back to its best, with passenger satisfaction scores meeting or exceeding 2019 levels.”

However, cargo dropped by 11.8%, driven by a 35% slump from Asia-Pacific.

As air travel rebounded with the relaxation of Covid restrictions, Heathrow faced chaos amid a labour shortage.

In July 2022, the airport restricted its daily capacity to 100,000 passengers to avoid flight cancellations and baggage delays.

The cap was eventually lifted on 30 October 2022.

In the nine months through 30 September 2022, the airport posted an adjusted pre-tax loss of £442m driven by the Covid-19 impact, the global economic crisis, and the Ukraine conflict.

Additional disruption is likely at Heathrow with more than 3,000 workers, who are Unite union members, to be balloted over a fresh round of walkouts.

The workers include security guards, engineers and firefighters, who rejected a 10% pay increase.