Heathrow Airport has increased its 2022 passenger number forecast from 45.5 million to nearly 53 million.
This 16% rise follows a “strong” April, with 5.1 million people using the west London airport.
Heathrow said outbound leisure travellers and people cashing in airline vouchers obtained for trips cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic are driving the recovery in demand, which it expects to last throughout the summer.
The forecast means Heathrow expects passenger numbers to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels this year.
This is a “realistic assessment”, the airport insisted.
The regulator is in the final stages of setting a five-year cap on the airport’s charges.
Heathrow expects to remain loss-making through the year and does not forecast paying dividends to shareholders in 2022.
There are significant challenges ahead
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Airport
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We all want to see travel get back to pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible, and, while I am encouraged by the rise in passenger numbers, we also have to be realistic.
“There are significant challenges ahead. The regulator can either plan for them with a robust and adaptable regulatory settlement that delivers for passengers and withstands any shocks, or they can prioritise airline profits by cutting back on passenger service, leaving the industry to scramble when things go wrong in future.”