Coronavirus: Heathrow to close one runway after major air traffic fall

Decision comes days after Gatwick, Britain's second busiest airport, closed one of its two terminals

Caitlin Doherty
Thursday 02 April 2020 23:55
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Planes stand on Heathrow Airport apron as flights cancelled amid coronavirus outbreak

Heathrow will close one of its runways next week as air traffic continues to fall globally amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The London hub will operate its landings and takeoffs from one strip from Monday 6 April to “increase resilience and safety for staff, passengers and cargo” throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.

The airport has two runways and will alternate which one they keep open on a weekly basis, a spokesman said.

They added: “Although we are seeing significantly fewer flights at the moment, Heathrow will remain open so that we can continue to play a crucial role in helping to secure vital medical goods and food for the nation during this unprecedented epidemic.”

In 2018, Heathrow served 80.1 million passengers, according to their website.

A total of 475,624 flights took off from the west London site in the same year.

The news comes after British Airways said it was putting more than 30,000 staff on furlough.

The airline has introduced its own job retention scheme similar to the Government's, which will still give staff 80% of their pay plus 80% of their allowances.

A BA spokesman said on Thursday: “Our colleagues have done a brilliant job keeping vital routes open to reunite customers with their families, and bring back supplies to our hospitals, factories and shops.

“But with the challenges of coronavirus, like many airlines, we have been in touch with colleagues to advise that we are implementing the furlough scheme to minimise the financial impact on them.”

Gatwick Airport has also significantly scaled back its operations.

From 1 April the West Sussex airport closed one of its two terminals, and its runway will only be open for scheduled flights between 2pm and 10pm.

The measures will be in place for a minimum of one month.

Gatwick recorded 47 million passengers last year.

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