London Heathrow Airport has announced that it will keep Terminal 4 closed until the end of 2021 as a result of low passenger volumes.
In November passenger numbers fell 88% year-on-year as a result of the UK going into a second national lockdown and strict travel restrictions. The airport handled just 747,000 passengers during the month, compared to 6.2 million the previous year.
Terminal 4 was first shut in May during the first lockdown in the UK. During that month the airport handled just 227,000 passengers, compared to 6.7 million in May 2019. Although passenger numbers are set to pick up again, the latest forecasts for recovery have led to the decision to keep Terminal 4 non-operational for a further year.
Heathrow has also announced that it will continue to urge the UK government to abandon plans to abolish tax free shopping for international visitors. According to the airport, the “disastrous tourist tax”, which will make the UK the only country in Europe not to offer tax-free shopping for international visitors, will hurt UK competitiveness.
“2021 should be the year of Britain’s economic recovery, but recent announcements, such as the tourist tax, could be the final nail in the coffin for struggling businesses such as restaurants, hotels and theatres that rely on inbound tourists, as well as for retailers,” said John Holland-Kaye, CEO, Heathrow.
Holland-Kaye also urged the government to extend business rates relief for all airports and called for targeted, sector specific government support to protect jobs and help drive the UK’s economic recovery.
Heathrow has partnered with British Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic on a cross-industry study aimed at eradicating the need for quarantine for passengers, by demonstrating the effectiveness of pre-departure testing in reducing transmission while making free movement easier.