Heathrow says Paris now Europe’s busiest airport

London - London Heathrow has said Paris Charles de Gaulle had overtaken it to become Europe's top airport in terms of passenger numbers, blaming delayed coronavirus testing and travel restrictions.

"For the first time, Paris Charles de Gaulle has overtaken Heathrow as Europe's largest airport, with Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt close behind," Heathrow said Wednesday in a trading update, warning that the UK has ceded commercial advantage.

"All three continental rivals have implemented testing regimes. The UK government has announced an intention to introduce testing for passengers from high risk countries by 1st December to help restart the UK economy."

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Heathrow said 2020 passenger numbers up to end of September totalled 19.27 million for Paris and 18.97 million at Heathrow.

The London hub has meanwhile slashed its forecasts.

Heathrow, which lies west of the British capital, said it expects to carry 22.6 million passengers this year and 37.1 million in 2021.

Those compared with the group's prior forecasts of 29.2 million and 62.8 million respectively.

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"The reduction is caused by the second wave of Covid and slow progress on introducing testing by the UK government to reopen borders with 'high risk' countries," the company added.

Heathrow is owned by a consortium led by Spanish construction giant Ferrovial.

It includes also sovereign wealth funds from China, Singapore and Qatar as well as North American shareholders.

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