Europe’s busiest airport said shareholder payouts were agreed in February “before the significant impacts of Covid-19 on our industry were clear or anticipated”.
The dividends will come as a boon to Heathrow’s major investors. But the decision to press ahead with rewarding shareholders could threaten to undermine a concerted effort by Britain’s airports to secure bespoke financial support from the taxpayer.
The Airports Owners Association ratcheted up the pressure on ministers over the weekend by calling for lending caps to be lifted for aviation businesses as well as the Government’s furlough scheme to be extended beyond May.
Heathrow has agreed a 10pc pay cut with its biggest union Unite.
Non-unionised staff have been warned they face the sack if they refuse to accept voluntary wage reductions of up to 15pc.
Around a quarter of Heathrow’s senior management has been made redundant and staff have been told they could be transferred on to the Government’s furlough scheme where the taxpayer foots the bill for 80pc of wages.