This Airport Just Overtook London Heathrow As Europe’s Busiest Airport

travellers and an Air France Airbus A380 aircraft at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport

London’s Heathrow Airport can no longer lay claim to being Europe’s busiest airport. Now, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris has that distinction.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Charles de Gaulle Airport has usurped Heathrow mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of the virus grounded flights at Heathrow, and the airport did not approve passenger testing, numbers have fallen dramatically.

Heathrow Airport expects to serve 22.6 million passengers this year and 37.1 million in 2021, the AP reported. Overall, the airport’s revenue this year has dropped by 72 percent compared to 2019. The airport also reported a loss of 1.52 billion pounds ($1.97 billion USD), as of September.

According to The Guardian, Heathrow Airport has served 18.97 million passengers as of the end of September, a drop of 69 percent in the same time in 2019. Meanwhile, Charles de Gaulle has served 19.27 million passengers in the first nine months of this year. 

The British airport cited that since Charles de Gaulle has implemented passenger testing, it was able to allow for more passengers to pass through the French hub.

“The U.K.’s hub airport is no longer the busiest airport in Europe, competitors such as Charles de Gaulle have exceeded us in terms of passenger numbers as they benefit from a testing regime,” Heathrow said in a statement. “Without a rapid move to testing, the U.K. will fall even further behind its European competitors and the economic recovery will fail to get off the ground.”

According to The Guardian, the airport is asking the British government to commit to testing arriving passengers by Dec. 1 in order to protect jobs and revenue.

“It has to be the right thing to do for this country to help with the economic recovery,” said John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, to BBC Radio, according to The Guardian. “The government has been slow to get on with this. They really need to get on and make this happen before the beginning of December.”

Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.

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