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Thousands of amazing colleagues across Heathrow continue to work tirelessly to help keep the airport moving and playing a vital role in helping the UK through this Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Their work has meant Heathrow remains open to serve the country during these unprecedented times to bring stranded friends and family home, and to deliver vital, life-saving, medical cargo supplies. 

Below is a snapshot update on what we’re doing to help the UK through this fast-moving situation, why we’re still open when others are shut, and how we’ve had to adapt to the current situation. 

Why Heathrow staying open is vital for UK supply chains…

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.   

Bringing British Citizens home….

The remaining international passenger flights at Heathrow are a crucial lifeline to the hundreds of thousands of UK residents that are being urged to return home by the Government. 

As an example, on Monday, two British Airways chartered planes landed at Heathrow bringing 330 British nationals home from Peru. Many of them had been confined to a hostel in Lima with COVID-19 patients and had no medical care. 

Now they are back home where they can be with their families and get the support they need.   

For most, Government-chartered flights will not be made available, and commercial flights will be the only way for those stranded to travel back home over the next few weeks. 

Keeping passengers and our colleagues safe throughout…

In our terminals you’ll see a host of banners, digital signs, floor markings, and leaflets with health advice and social distancing reminders. You’ll also notice the over 600 hand sanitizer dispensers located around the terminals.

We have a dedicated team of Public Health England officials at Heathrow with enhanced monitoring processes – some of which aren’t necessarily visible to passengers.  

For our colleagues, we’ve made surgical masks available to those who would like to wear them and are installing Perspex barriers in security. These barriers were designed by one of our in-house engineers and the first prototypes were installed this week.

No flight deemed by any Government to be a risk is operating in or out of Heathrow. Importantly, we continue to follow the advice of health experts and Government. 

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. 

To find out more please visit our Coronavirus FAQ page: