The Coronavirus is already having an adverse impact on the economy, with Heathrow announcing that both passenger and cargo numbers fell significantly in February.
Passenger numbers fell to 5.4m, down -4.8% on last year after adjusting for the extra leap day, due to lower demand on Asian and European routes.
Demand has continued to weaken going into March and Heathrow expects a further year-on-year decrease in coming weeks.
The airport also saw over 115,800 metric tonnes of cargo pass through its doors, down 9.5%, as the effect of coronavirus was felt on global trade.
The effects of coronavirus are expected to have an increasingly negative effect on passenger and cargo numbers over the coming weeks – striking a further blow to the airport after last month’s Court of Appeal ruling that plans for a third runway were illegal on environmental grounds.
In the meantime, as the Coronavirus crisis continues, regular deep cleaning has been introduced across all terminals as well as increased availability and provision of hand sanitisers.
A dedicated Public Health England (PHE) team remains in place at the airport, implementing clinically-informed, evidence-driven processes to support passengers showing symptoms of the virus. Current processes include an early warning system allowing airline crew to report any illness on board flights ahead of landing.
Heathrow CEO 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 plc.”