MIAMI – London Heathrow Airport (LHR) will close two of its four terminals starting April 6 due to low air traffic amid the COVID-19 crisis. However, the airport’s two newest terminals 2 and 5 will remain open.
The decision implies the merging of staff and systems and the moving of a dozen airlines located at T3 and T4 to T2 and T5, affecting Emirates (EK), American Airlines (AA) and Virgin Atlantic (VS), the latter which moved its operations from Gatwick (LGW) to LHR on March 27.
According to independant.co.ok, a spokesperson for LHR, its teams were working closely with airlines and other partners to ensure the move was as smooth and efficient and possible, adding, “consolidating our operations will also help us to protect long-term jobs…by reducing our cost base.”
T4 is home to Skyteam, including Air France (AF), KLM (KL), and many Middle Eastern and Asian carriers while T2 is home to the Star Alliance. The move also means that British Airways (BA), which temporarily halted its flight operations at LGW from April 1, and Iberia (IB) will share T5.
In addition to LHR’s move, Manchester Airport (MAN) closed T2 and T3 over a week ago, only using T1 and one runway, according to @FiveThreeNorth.
UK airports’ have no choice but to take their own cost-saving measures
In mid-March, the CEOs of LHR, LGW and MAN airports wrote a letter to the UK Prime Minister warning him that they may have to cut services and operations, affecting thousands of jobs and airlines as a consequence of the plunge in passenger traffic.
Around the same time, UK’s Airport Operators Association (AOA) Chief Executive, Karen Dee, declared that the government had to make an “unequivocal commitment” to sustain the UK aviation industry.
However, on March 24, UK chancellor of Exchequer Rishi Sunak wrote to airline and airport executives, emphasizing support measures for the aviation industry, but denying airlines and airports any loans.
European carriers face a potential revenue loss of US$76bn and passenger demand 46% below normal, putting at risk about 5.6 million jobs and $378bn in GDP for the region.
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