Heathrow Closes One Runway for Repairs With Traffic Down 95%

London Heathrow airport, normally the busiest in Europe, will close one of its two runways for repairs at the height of the summer season, a reflection of passenger traffic that remains near rock bottom because of coronavirus lockdowns.

The landing strip will be shut down over coming weeks to allow preliminary works to take place, before reopening during the day with construction activity taking place at night, according to parent Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd.

The number of people passing through Heathrow was down 95% in June from a year earlier, after the introduction of quarantine rules for arriving passengers cut occupancy levels by 10%, the airport said Monday. Sequentially, that’s barely an improvement from levels seen in April and May at the height of travel curbs.

While the announcement of so-called travel corridors taking in 74 countries holds out some hope for a recovery in demand, efforts to remove the quarantine completely need to be stepped up, Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye said in the release. Heathrow is meanwhile conducting a temperature-screening trial and seeking government approval for a dry-run of Covid-19 tests.

Britain’s Airport Operators Association separately called for a 12-month business-rate holiday for terminals in England and Wales to parallel measures taken in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It said English airports have paid more than 70 million pounds ($88 million) in rates since March despite the lockdown.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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