Heathrow COVID-19 Update
Heathrow is critical to tackling COVID-19
Vital supply lines
- the number of passenger flights operating out of Heathrow has reduced by 75% but 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.
Only a few days ago, 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.
UK’s air bridge
- 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.
Getting UK nationals home
- 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. Where possible, the UK Foreign Office is calling for as many travellers as possible to use commercial services and we are vital to assisting with that.
For example, last week, 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.
On Sunday, the UK Foreign Office
plans to step-up efforts to bring home UK travellers stranded abroad because of COVID-19, with commercial partners. Heathrow is ready to play a central role in this operation.
We have received some questions about the thermal testing of all passengers. Heathrow does not make these decisions; the airport has been closely following the guidance of PHE on which measures are required to contain and respond to Coronavirus effectively and keep the public safe. Both the Government’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser are currently advising that temperature screening is ineffective in detecting or preventing the spread of Coronavirus.
However, governments in some other countries are now asking that arriving passengers must have had temperatures checked, before boarding UK-side, in order to be permitted entry. As this is the request of some foreign governments, we are working with relevant partners to ensure these actions can be performed where it is deemed necessary.
Caring for our Communities
Last week, we updated you on our donation of thousands of FFP3 face masks to our local NHS and Air Ambulance Trusts. The donation is in addition to a number of initiatives exercised by the airport and its partners, to support the local community through the global COVID-19 outbreak, including:
- Heathrow Community Trust (HCT) has ringfenced £95,000 as an emergency COVID-19 fund – support has been offered to all HCT’s 145 active grant projects
- Online educational resources available to schools and parents on the Heathrow website
- Heathrow Community Rangers being redeployed to support some of our local communities, including delivering donations to local food banks
We recognise the importance for Heathrow to play our part in these ways but will always look for more opportunities to support the most vulnerable in our communities. You can find out more