Passenger numbers at Heathrow Airport declined nearly five per cent year-on-year in February as a lack of demand due to the coronavirus outbreak began to take its toll on the transport hub’s footfall.
The monthly fall to 5.4m passengers was largely down to a falling demand on Asian and European routes, which have been the worst hit by the disease.
However, Heathrow warned that it was expecting a further decrease in March, as cancellations of services increased after the outbreak began to make its way through Europe.
Italy has thus far borne the brunt of Covid-19, with the government announcing it had now recorded 631 deaths and more than 10,000 cases.
Yesterday British Airways and Ryanair cancelled all of their services to the country, which has now been placed under travel lockdown to limit the spread.
The Covid-19 outbreak also hit air cargo, with February seeing 115,800 metric tonnes of cargo pass through Heathrow’s doors, down 9.5 per cent, due to the damage to international trade.
Heathrow said that it had introduced regular deep cleaning across its terminals, as well as increased availability and provision of hand sanitisers.
Public Health England officials are in station at the airport to provide checks for passengers showing signs of the virus.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The threat of coronavirus is an increasing challenge for the UK and we are working day and night to ensure Britain’s front door is open and safe for our people and passengers.
“We will continue to work with the Government to limit the impacts this will have on UK”.
There are currently 382 cases in the UK, with seven reported deaths.