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Aviation is the lifeblood of this country’s economy, and until we get Britain flying again, UK business will be stuck in third gear.
Passenger numbers were down 97% in April with the airport supporting essential travel for just 200,000 people in the entire month – the same number it would typically serve in just one day. Many of those passengers were on board the 218 charted repatriation flights that landed at Heathrow. Demand is expected to remain weak until governments lift lockdowns.
A total of 1,788 cargo only flights operated from Heathrow in April, helping to bring in critical supplies of PPE. The busiest day was 30th April, with 95 dedicated cargo movements – 14 times the usual daily average pre-COVID. Even so, cargo volumes at Britain’s biggest port were down over 60%.
The airport supports Government’s aim of avoiding a second wave of infection, even though the 14 day quarantine plan will effectively close borders temporarily. It is likely that few passenger flights will operate and even less people will travel until the quarantine is lifted.
Without long haul passenger flights, there will be very limited trade as 40% of UK exports and inward supply chain travels in the cargo holds of passenger planes from Heathrow. Until people can fly freely again, industries in all corners of the country will remain stagnant.
Heathrow calls on Government to lay out a roadmap for how borders can eventually be reopened and to take a lead in developing a Common International Standard so that passengers can travel freely between low risk countries once the infection rate has been brought down.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:
“Aviation is the lifeblood of this country’s economy, and until we get Britain flying again, UK business will be stuck in third gear. The Government needs to urgently lay out a roadmap for how they will reopen borders once the disease has been beaten, and to take an immediate lead in agreeing a Common International Standard for health in aviation that will allow passengers who don’t have the infection to travel freely.”