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In response to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, London Heathrow Airport is closing one of its runways and moving to single runway operations from tomorrow (Monday 6th April 2020). The airport will also be moving flights from Terminals 3 and 4 to Terminals 2 and 5.
“How we’re having to change the way Heathrow operates during these unprecedented times…
From Monday 6th April, Heathrow is moving to single runway operations and in the coming weeks we will temporarily move airline operations from Terminals 3 and 4 into Terminals 2 and 5 alongside the airlines that already operate there.
Our teams are working closely with our airline and other partners to ensure this move is as smooth and efficient and possible and we will provide clear guidance to passengers on this webpage, our app and our social media channels.
The significant reduction in passenger traffic will ensure that passengers are able to continue to adhere to the Government’s social distancing guidance even as the operation is consolidated.
These changes will provide us with greater resilience throughout this difficult time and allow us to reduce operational costs with the aim of protecting as many long-term jobs at the airport as possible.”
The airport has also released some interesting statistics about the (predominantly cargo) flights that are still arriving and departing:
“While the number of passenger flights operating out of Heathrow has reduced by 75%, we are making sure that cargo flights carrying essential medical supplies, ventilators and medicines, as well as food supplies, remain able to touch down in the UK.
Just today for example, a Virgin Atlantic flight touched down from China loaded solely with medical supplies such as ventilators and PPE to help the NHS save lives and keep medical staff safe.
In the last week of March, Heathrow saw a 409% increase in cargo only air traffic, compared to the average seen before the pandemic. Over 40% of the UK’s pharmaceutical products such as medicines, vaccines and respirators, are imported via Heathrow.
After its arrival at Heathrow, this essential freight is quickly transported across the country through our domestic route network and road transport. Heathrow currently links up our international network to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Isle of Man and Manchester via air and provides the only remaining air link from Belfast to the UK mainland.”
Heathrow Airport appears to be taking some sensible steps to streamline its operations and reduce costs. I was aware that large airports see a lot of cargo, but I was still very intrigued to learn that 40%+ of the UK’s pharmaceutical products are imported through Heathrow.