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Renewed crisis for Heathrow as lockdown bites

Heathrow faces a renewed crisis as the government puts a block on all but essential air travel for a month.

The decision, prompted by the huge rise in covid-19 cases, is likely to bring the slow recovery to a juddering halt and virtually close all activity at Heathrow and other airports from next Thursday.

Business travel will still be permitted but leisure travel, including pre-booked holidays and casual family visits, will be stopped. Travel for ‘caring’ purposes, such as looking after elderly relatives is open to interpretation as is ‘educational’ activity.

“it’s an absolute hammer blow to the industry. Things were slowly getting back to normal with the opening of air corridors and the prospect of rapid testing but this is devastating and could lead to a terminal decline for many small travel companies” said one insider.

He said that there was likely to be an immediate halt to tourist-dominated flights although the main schedule routes are likely to be maintained, albeit with only a trickle of a business passengers.

The response of Heathrow during last Spring’s lockdown is an indication of the way things could develop over the next month. Only a handful of essential shops and catering outlets remained open and operations were concentrated in terminals two and five.

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