London’s Heathrow International Airport has announced that it will continue to keep Terminal 4 closed until the end of 2021, suggesting a pessimistic outlook for passenger traffic in the short term.
Terminal 4 was first closed in May this year, following the first announcement that the UK would enter into a mandatory lockdown period, and has remained closed ever since.
What was the busiest airport in Europe has now said it will keep one of its terminals shut down until the end of 2021, with Heathrow citing recent subdued passenger figures for its decision.
LHR reported an 88 per cent drop year-on-year in passenger traffic in November.
Prior to the pandemic, Terminal 4 was home to some of the biggest carriers throughout Europe and the Middle East, including KLM, Etihad and Air France. Airlines that were based in Terminal 4 have now been temporarily relocated to the airport’s other terminals.
The decision to close Terminal 4 for nearly another year comes despite recent positive news of COVID-19 vaccines being approved by regulators in both the UK and US.
The decision appears to suggest hesitation and pessimism on the part of LHR in its forecasts for 2021.
The announcement comes as Heathrow cedes the top spot as Europe’s largest airport.
For the first time, Paris Charles de Gaulle has overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s largest airport, with Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt close behind.
Notably, all three continental rivals have implemented testing regimes.
As such, the UK government has announced an intention to introduce testing for passengers from high risk countries by 1 December to help restart the UK economy.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said, “Britain is falling behind because we’ve been too slow to embrace passenger testing. European leaders acted quicker and now their economies are reaping the benefits.
“Paris has overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s largest airport for the first time ever, and Frankfurt and Amsterdam are quickly gaining ground.
“Let’s make Britain a winner again. Bringing in pre-departure COVID tests and partnering with our US allies to open a pilot airbridge to America will kickstart our economic recovery and put the UK back ahead of our European rivals.”