Heathrow Airport has turned its first profit since 2019, as 79.2 million passengers flew through the West London hub, Report informs via Evening Standard.

The business made a small pre-tax profit of £38 million (almost $48 million). That is dwarfed by the cumulative £4.5 billion worth of losses made in the prior years, but represents a major milestone for the airport’s post-pandemic recovery.

Revenue came to £3.7 billion as passengers from Asia returned with Covid restrictions easing. Total passenger numbers were up 28.6%, with passengers from the Asia-Pacific region up 78.2%. Retail revenue grew to almost £700 million.

CEO Thomas Woldbye, the former Copenhagen Airport boss who took over Heathrow last year after John Holland-Kaye’s surprise resignation, said: “2023 was a good year for Heathrow from a challenging start to a great finish – We delivered much improved service for our customers, and managed to turn a small profit after three consecutive years of losses.

However, he added that new CAA rules about the amount Heathrow can charge airlines would make 2024 challenging.

“That’s a great platform to build on, although in 2024, we are expected to deliver even further improved service to more passengers, but with airport charges cut by 20% in real terms.

“We will have to pull every lever to become more efficient and make tough choices on where we spend and invest our money to overcome the huge cost challenge set by the CAA and remain profitable over the next three years.”

Despite the return to profit, Heathrow did not pay a dividend, as it had previously announced.