people sitting in a terminal

Why does a Heathrow slot go for $75 million? Here’s why…

Surprising to many, London Heathrow isn’t actually one of the world’s five largest airport by virtually any measure. It doesn’t transport the most passengers, or offer the most seats per year, nor does it have the most runways. But that doesn’t mean it’s not arguably the world’s most important airport, at least when it comes to money. OAG’s annual report of the most valuable airline routes is out, and half of the top ten revolve around London Heathrow.

a large airport terminal with luggage carts and peopleThe Only Billion Dollar Route

British Airways does what no other airline or route manages to do each and every year, squeezing a whopping 1.16 billion in revenue on the route between London Heathrow and New York JFK each year. This is the world’s single most valuable and profitable airline route, made even more remarkable by the fact that these figures don’t include New York’s Newark Airport.  But even then, it’s just one of Heathrow’s market leaders.

5/10 Of the World’s Most Valuable Routes

One airline making a billion dollars from just one route is wild, but even more impressive is 5/10 of the world’s most profitable routes centering around just one airport. Heathrow is responsible for half of the world’s most valuable routes, with Emirates, Singapore, Qatar and Cathay Pacific each putting in a top 10 effort on their flagship routes.

According to OAG, Emirates ranks third with $796,201,646 per year between Heathrow and Dubai, Singapore Airlines fourth with $735,597,614, Qatar seventh with $639,122,609 annually and Cathay Pacific 8th with $604,595,063 annually.

people sitting in a terminalRecord Prices For Landing Slots

With extremely limited capacity (the airport operates at 99% currently), getting a landing slot at London Heathrow is nothing short of a miracle, an an expensive one at that. In 2016, Oman Air paid a record $75 million for a take off/landing slot at Heathrow from Air France, toppling the previous $60m record set by American just a year prior.

As record numbers of travellers take to the skies, including more than 80 million annual passengers at Heathrow alone, with up to 130 million if a third runway becomes a reality, these landing slots are only expected to gain in value. The way things are going, airlines may eventually make more money selling their slots, than actually flying passengers!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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