Cash-strapped Heathrow does away with free airport bus services from this weekend

Jun 8, 2021

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Travellers going to and from Heathrow Airport will no longer enjoy the perk of free busses.

Beginning 12 June, all busses in and around the airport in the Heathrow Free Travel Zone will charge a fee to travellers and airport workers. The airport blames the pandemic and its impact on its finances for the decision to no longer subsidise the cost of running the busses.

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“We have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend our funding of public transport in and around the airport in 2021,” said a statement on the official Heathrow website.

Airport officials have indicated the decision isn’t necessarily permanent and could be reversed once travel resumes in earnest and the financial picture improves. The Transport for London (TfL) services reportedly cost the airport around £1.2 million a year.

Still, losing this benefit adds an additional burden for travellers and especially for locals who work at Heathrow. Some of the bus routes in the Heathrow FTZ — routes 4, 7, 8, 442, 555 — had already stopped being free as of 1 January. As of this weekend, all the remaining routes will charge a fee.

One silver lining is that you can still travel for free between terminals in the airport.

TfL Rail, the Heathrow Express and the Piccadilly Line will remain free between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3. An inter-terminal transfer ticket is required for free travel on TfL Rail and the Heathrow Express. A contactless bank card or Oyster Card is necessary for free travel on the Piccadilly Line.

However, employees at Heathrow who relied on the free buses to move to and from their jobs now have an additional expense to shoulder.

Discounts for single and return tickets on Heathrow Express for Heathrow and Team Heathrow colleagues will also remain in place. A detailed list of the cost of tickets and discounts available for everything from single-use tickets to annual passes can be found on Heathrow’s website.

Featured photo by PhotographyTTL/Getty Images

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