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Heathrow Airport doesn’t record more passengers than African airports combined

Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom 3 mins read

CLAIM: A twitter user, Babashola Kuti (@RealSolaKuti), claimed that Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom records more passengers than all African Airports put together. 

False. It is not true that the Heathrow Airport records more passenger traffic than all the airports in the 54 African countries combined. Official data from the World Bank and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) do not support the claim. 

Full Text

Babashola Kuti, with over 32,000 followers on Twitter, claimed that Heathrow Airport in the UK records more passengers than all African Airports combined.

“You are supposed to isolate for at least 10 days. That is why they did not test you. Heathrow has more passengers than all African airports put together. No time,” he tweeted

He was responding to a tweet by Olujimi (@Lord_Oke) that Heathrow Airport was not screening passengers on arrival in the UK. 

Brief on Heathrow Airport, UK

Heathrow Airport, originally called London Airport until 1966 and now known as London Heathrow, is a major international airport in London, which is considered as one of the busiest airports in the world. 

For instance, Heathrow witnessed a record breaking day on August 4, 2019, when 262,000 passengers travelled through the terminal.

Record shows that a total of 7.7 million passengers passed through the airport – nearing the capacity limit – in August, 2019, more than the 6.54 million passengers recorded in all airports in Nigeria in 2019. 

But how true is the claim that the Heathrow Airport records more passenger traffic than all the airports in the 54 African countries combined? 

Verification

Official data hosted on Heathrow Airport’s website show that it recorded 80.96 million passenger traffic in 2019, which is the latest full year statistics available. 

In contrast, data sourced from the World Bank showed that African Airports combined (excluding Djibouti) recorded 101.01 million passenger traffic in 2019.

The breakdown shows that 46 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa recorded a total of 65.68 million passengers carried through air transport while the remaining eight countries (Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia) in Africa recorded 35.33 million passengers, bringing the total to 101.01 million. 

The UN Development Programme lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as “sub-Saharan,” excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.

The 101.01 million passengers recorded by African airports in 2019 is far higher than the 80.96 million passengers recorded by the Heathrow Airport the same year. 

Similarly, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) record shows that African Airports recorded 155 million travellers in 2019. 

IATA represents some airlines comprising 82% of global air traffic.

Conclusion

It is not true that the Heathrow Airport records more passenger traffic than all the airports in the 54 African countries combined. Official data from the World Bank and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) do not support the claim. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.  

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