Multiple sources claim London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) has drawn up emergency plans to close two of its four terminals in the coming days. As passenger demand for air travel slumps day by day around the world, Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) will close Terminal 3 and 4 and transfer any remaining services to Terminal 2 (normally just the home of Star Alliance airlines) and Terminal 5 (which is the hub for British Airways).
The news emerged as the Airport Operators Association (AOA) warned that entire airports may shutdown completely within weeks without government intervention.
“With travel bans proliferating and passengers being unwilling to fly, traffic through airports has plummeted. UK airports are taking immediate and drastic action to cut costs and are scaling back investments in light of the situation,” warned AOA chief executive Karen Dee.
“The Government must step in to see airports across the four home nations through the current crisis, and make an unequivocal commitment to doing whatever it takes to sustain the UK aviation industry.”
Earlier today, European air traffic control agency Eurocontrol revealed air traffic across the continent by around a third compared to the same day in 2019. The head of Eurocontrol, Eamonn Brennan said there would be a rapid decrease in flights over the next few days.
Immediate steps being taken by Heathrow Airport include cancelling the pay for its executives and freezing all recruitment. The airport is also calling on airport parking fees to be waived so that airlines can ground their planes at Heathrow without charge.
In addition, Heathrow has joined a growing list of organisations to call on the temporary suspension of the so-called ’80:20′ slot rule until at least May. The slot rule was relaxed by the EU last week to prevent airlines flying ghost flights or face losing high-valuable slots at normally busy airports.
Terminal 4 is the home of SkyTeam airlines like Korean Air and KLM, as well as the likes of Qatar Airways, Etihad and Aeroflot. Carriers using Terminal 3 include Emirates and Cathay Pacific, along with Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines.
The British government has so far not issued any travel bans unlike many other countries around the world.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.