Heathrow records busiest month since onset of the pandemic

Aug 13, 2021

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July was Heathrow Airport’s busiest month since the coronavirus pandemic brought the travel industry to a halt.

More than 1.5 million passengers passed through Heathrow (LHR) last month, the most since March of 2020. It’s also a 74% increase from July of last year when virtually all nonessential travel remained grounded.

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The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and the government relaxation of travel restrictions in the U.K. has sent more people hurrying to book flights.

The surge of passengers at Heathrow is a welcome sight for airport officials.

“Finally, some blue skies are on the horizon, as travel and trade routes slowly reopen. The job, though, is far from complete,” said Heathrow’s chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe, according to The National.

A bustling Heathrow is an encouraging sign of the travel industry’s recovery, but the airport still has a ways to go. Consider this: Heathrow’s July numbers are still down 81% from the passenger traffic it recorded in July of 2019. A recent analysis showed Heathrow, once Europe’s busiest airport, is now just the 17th-busiest hub.

Still, there are reasons for optimism, such as JetBlue’s New York-JFK to Heathrow service, which just launched this week. Also, fully vaccinated American visitors can now fly to the U.K. without having to quarantine. That’s expected to lead to a further increase in the number of travellers passing through Heathrow. And there’s hope that the U.S. will soon move the U.K. to its safe travel list.

The airport is also back to using all four terminals again, now that Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines have returned to Terminal 3. The airport had condensed operations into two terminals when the pandemic took hold and grounded most flights.

Featured image by Andrew Holt/Getty Images.

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