Heathrow witnesses huge drop in traffic in 2020

Published on : Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Heathrow recently reported that passenger numbers fall by 73 per cent last year as COVID-19 restrictions took a huge toll on the aviation sector. A total of 22 million people passed through the airport. In December, passenger numbers plummeted 83 per cent as compared to 2019, after fears about the new strain of COVID-19 led countries to shut their borders to the U.K.

Alongside this, millions of people were forced to cancel Christmas travel plans as restrictions were tightened at the last minute. The approval of the first vaccines in November was perceived to be a turning point for the industry, but the complication of the new, more transmittable strains of the virus has led to further groundings.

At one point following the news more than 50 countries had closed their borders to the U.K. in fear of the virus spread. The airport also said that its annual cargo volumes fell 28 per cent as fewer passenger planes meant there was less space available for goods. Heathrow Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye, said in a statement that the past year has been incredibly challenging for aviation.

He mentioned that while authorities support the tightening border controls temporarily by introducing pre-departure testing for international arrivals, as well as quarantine, it is not sustainable. He shared that the aviation industry is the cornerstone of the UK economy but is currently fighting for survival. He added that the industry needs a road map out of the lockdown, and a full waiver of business rates.

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