Heathrow Airport has had its busiest start to the year since the pandemic

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Heathrow Airport is “back to its best” after recording its busiest start to the year since before the pandemic, says boss John Holland-Kaye (Jonathan Brady / PA)

Heathrow Airport is “back to its best” after recording its busiest start to the year since before the pandemic, its boss John Holland-Kaye has said.

The UK’s busiest airport revealed that more than 5.4 million passengers traveled through Heathrow in January, reaching levels not seen since the start of 2020.

It came as UK airports were hit with major disruption before Christmas and Border Force staff went on strike in December.

But Heathrow said on Monday that it had been “successful” in managing the strike action, after earlier assurances that it was operating normally with minimal queuing in immigration halls throughout the strike days.

He reiterated plans to trial eGates for 10- and 11-year-olds in Terminal 5 over half term, which he said helps create “smooth and seamless journeys”.

Its overall passenger satisfaction scores are now at or above pre-pandemic levels, the airport also announced.

In January, 97 percent of passengers waited less than 10 minutes for security, he said.

It comes after a summer of major disruption at airports such as Heathrow as the aviation sector struggled to cope with staff shortages and sudden flight cancellations and major delays for travellers.

But Heathrow has hailed a strong half-term travel period, asserting that the airport is well equipped to manage the influx of families enjoying getaways.

Chief Executive Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow is back at its best, with passenger satisfaction scores meeting or exceeding 2019 levels.

“We are giving families a warm welcome over half term by providing excellent service and bringing back the magic of travel.”

In addition, the airport said it is supporting British Airways and Virgin Atlantic airlines in resuming ticket sales to China, “re-opening a key market for British exports”.

Businesses and investors have responded positively to China reopening its borders this year as the world’s largest economy signaled it is developing a path out of its strict “zero Covid” policy.

Mr Holland-Kaye provided the latest information before stepping down from his role this year.

He has been chief executive for nine years and is to remain in the post until Heathrow appoints a successor.

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