Heathrow experienced its first full quarter of passenger growth since 2019 in the three months to September, underscoring strong pent-up demand for travel.
Passenger numbers over the third quarter recovered to 28 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels.
Cargo was up to to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
However, just 10.2 million passengers passed through the airport in the nine months to the end of September, down from the already depressed figure of 19 million for the first three quarters of last year.
Traffic is not expected to fully recover until at least 2026.
The airport reported a total loss of £3.4 billion since the start of pandemic – underscoring the long road ahead.
Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “We are on the cusp of a recovery which will unleash pent-up demand, create new quality jobs and see Britain’s trade roar back to life – but it risks a hard landing unless secured for the long-haul.”
Heathrow was also critical of plans to limit the amount it can charge airlines to use its facilities.
The airport had requested the CAA increase the cap on its charges per passenger to between £32 and £43.
However, the CAA settled on a figure of £34.40 – which was branded laughably high by Virgin Atlantic.
Heathrow said shareholders had achieved negative returns in real terms over the last 15 years.
“We need continued focus on the global vaccination programme so that borders can reopen without testing; we need a fair financial settlement from the CAA to sustain service and resilience after 15 years of negative real returns for investors; and we need a progressively increasing global mandate for Sustainable Aviation Fuels so that we can protect the benefits of aviation in a world without carbon,” added Holland-Kaye.