Due to the continued effect of coronavirus on air travel Heathrow airport on Friday announced that it will shut Terminal 4 until the end of next year.
However, in November passenger numbers were down by 88% as travel restrictions and England’s second COVID-19 lockdown took their toll.
Moreover, the number of cargo flights were also down. Because of a continuous fall in passenger numbers, Heathrow has decided that Terminal 4 will remain non-operational until the end of 2021.
Terminal 4 was closed during the first national lockdown. The decision saw airlines such as KLM, Air France, and Etihad move to Terminal 2.
The latest announcement adds to the mountain of woes the airport is facing due to the pandemic, including losses of £1.5bn ($2bn) in 2020.
Expecting Slow Recovery
Rolls-Royce, the maker of commercial plane engines, says that it expects air travel to “recover slowly” in the first six months of 2021 before an improvement in the second half as more people get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The engine group said that in the 11 months to November, the number of flying hours recorded on its large jet engines was 42% of last year’s total. It said that the “pace of recovery slowed due to the second wave of infections in some geographies.”
In October and November, the number of recorded flying hours on Rolls-Royce commercial jet engines was 33% compared to last year.
It comes after, the UK government added popular tourist destination the Canary Islands to the quarantine list on Thursday. However, people coming back to Britain from the islands will have to self-isolate starting from early Saturday morning.
Imposing Tourist Tax
However, up to 2,000 retails jobs could also go at Britain’s busiest airport due to the government’s decision not to offer tax-free shopping for tourists, according to Heathrow’s chief executive.
A levy on international visitors would make the UK the only country in Europe to have imposed such a tax.
Holland-Kaye said, “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.”
“To make Global Britain a reality. The government should be helping the aviation sector to survive. To develop routes to our key trading partners and attract businesses and tourists to come to Britain to spend their money,” Holland-Kaye said.
Moreover, Heathrow was also planning to charge drivers £5 ($6.75). To those who drop off passengers outside its terminals. The airport is charging all kinds of fees to survive the crisis facing global aviation.
Heathrow chiefs defended this move by saying that it is a tactic of fundraising to save jobs. Moreover, it is to encourage passengers to use public transport.
The airport has teamed up with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, and United Airlines. On a cross-industry study aimed at eradicating the need for quarantine for passengers. The research aims to prove the effectiveness of pre-departure testing in reducing transmission while making free movement easier.