Heathrow passenger numbers fall for eighth straight month
Passenger numbers at Heathrow Airport fell for the eight month in a row in October as the government’s travel quarantine regime continued to hammer aviation.
The number of people passing through the UK’s largest airport fell 82.4 per cent last month to just 1.2m passengers.
The figures came with warnings that November would see an even more “catastrophic” decline due to the ban on international leisure travel under the new national lockdown.
Once again, Heathrow’s chief exec John Holland-Kaye called on the government to act to protect the aviation industry.
Speaking to Sky News, he implored transport secretary Grant Shapps to announce an airport testing regime for those entering the UK “this week”.
He added that a testing regime would enable people to return to the skies even before a coronavirus vaccine was widely available.
Such a regime would prevent a “health pandemic becoming an unemployment pandemi”, he added.
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Heathrow already has the technology in place to conduct testing on incoming passengers, but Holland-Kaye said that the airport would need a couple of weeks to scale it up to cope with much higher demand when the lockdown ends on 2 December.
He also called for government to extend business rates relief to English and Welsh airports, as has already been done in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Despite nearly nine months of carnage, Holland-Kaye reassured investors that Heathrow had enough cash to keep going for “well over a year”.
As with last month, the biggest decline was recorded in the lucrative North American market, where passenger numbers fell by a rate of 94.6 per cent.
Heathrow’s figures came after fellow London airport Luton revealed that its passenger numbers had fallen by the same rate.
Just 297,000 people travelled through Luton in October, with airport officials warning that the figures in November are set to plummet 95 per cent.