London’s Heathrow said passenger numbers fell to 19.4 million last year, the lowest since 1972, as it was hit by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Britain’s biggest airport, which recorded a pretax loss of 1.79 billion pounds ($2.43 billion) for 2021, said on Wednesday that passenger numbers were currently 23% behind forecast but it expected a strong summer for outbound tourism.

It said it expected to meet its target of 45.5 million passengers this year.

It said it did not expect travel to return to pre-pandemic levels until all restrictions had been removed and passengers were confident they would not be reimposed.Demand is now starting to recover and we are working closely with airlines to scale-up our operations and reopen Terminal 4 for the summer travel peak,” said Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye.

Heathrow said that while demand for outbound tourism had been boosted by the removal of restrictions in Britain, inbound tourism and business travel remained suppressed because of testing in other countries.

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