Published on : Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Since the 1980s the airport has experienced its worst month and the fall in traffic is worse than during the first Gulf War in 1990-1 and the financial crash of 2007-8 and the volcanic ash airspace closure in 2020.
As compared to a year earlier the Heathrow’s links to the European Union were the worst affected. It had 60 per cent fewer passengers in March 2020. To and from Latin America it saw the smallest reduction while the figure was boosted by a number of repatriation flights from Peru and was organised by the Foreign Office. More cargo flights than usual is being handled by Heathrow and the average number of freight only movements in normal times is seven per day.
On 31 March 2020, 38 dedicated cargo flights were handled on one day alone.
However, as compared with 2019 the amount of freight handled by Heathrow is down one-third.
It is noted that during normal operations, 95 per cent of cargo usually travels in the belly hold of passenger planes.
According to the airport’s initial forecasts passenger demand in April is set to decrease by over 90 per cent. It has been predicted that there will be lasting and significant industry-wide effects.
Heathrow had closed Terminals 3 and 4 to consolidate operations into Terminals 2 and 5 and last week it moved to single runway operations.
Even when unrestricted international air travel resumes there are speculations that Terminal 4 – which is awkwardly located south of the runways, rather than between then – may not re-open for some years.
Chances are Heathrow might decide instead to keep Terminal 3 closed and rebuild it as a modern, midfield facility.London City has closed completely until May and Gatwick-UK’s second busiest-airport will remain open for eight hours a day.
Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said that the airport continues to serve the nation by keeping vital supply lines open and helping people get home.
It is the time to agree a common international standard for healthcare screening in airports so that when this crisis recedes, people can travel with confidence and they can get the British economy moving again.