Heathrow passenger numbers boosted by Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup in Japan helped Heathrow Airport record its busiest October on record, the owner of the London flight hub has revealed.

A total of 6.9 million passengers travelled through its terminals, with fastest-growing routes including trips to Africa (up 5.9%), East Asia (up 4.9%) and the Middle East (up 6.5%).

Trips to the Middle East increased, in part, due to Virgin opening a new route to Tel Aviv, and East Asian trips grew with British Airways flying to Kansai in Japan.

Flights were fuller, Heathrow said, particularly to Japan, where UK nations took part in the rugby showpiece, where Wales made the semi-finals and England lost in the final to South Africa.

Heathrow added that more than 137,000 metric tonnes of cargo passed through the airport in October, with cargo growth led by Ireland (up 6.8%), followed by the Middle East (up 4.2%), and Africa (up 2.8%).

The high footfall means Heathrow remains on track for a ninth consecutive year of passenger growth.

To improve reliability, airport bosses have also launched a partnership with Siemens to “implement a state-of-the-art centralised tracking system which will become the nerve-centre for expansion, connecting the network of offsite construction hubs across the UK”.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow continues to deliver for the economy, but we are also making progress on tackling the biggest issue of our time – climate change – by decarbonising the global aviation sector.

“We are delighted that British Airways has become the first airline in the world to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050 and that others are following their lead.

“The UK Government has an opportunity to show real global leadership by making net-zero aviation a focus for COP26 in Glasgow in 12 months’ time.”