Heathrow Airport: Runway closes as air traffic plummets amid coronavirus travel lockdown

The major international airport is known as the second busiest in the world for passenger traffic, but recently it has suffered a blow from the coronavirus. As the global total of cases for coronavirus hits over one million, the travel industry has taken a huge hit with more airlines suspending schedules and scaling back.

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The busy airport is planning to close one of its runways next week due to plummeting levels of air traffic.

It is believed that air traffic globally has plunged amid the coronavirus pandemic as countries impose stringent travel restrictions.

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The London airport will instead operate its landings and takeoffs from one runway from April 6.

The move is to “increase resilience and safety for staff, passengers and cargo” during the covid-19 outbreak.

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Heathrow Airport: Runway closes as air traffic plummets amid coronavirus travel restrictions (Image: GETTY)Heathrow Airport: The busy airport is planning to close one of its runways next week (Image: GETTY)

A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said that they will alternate between the airport’s two runways on a weekly basis.

He added: “Although we are seeing significantly fewer flights at the moment, Heathrow will remain open so that we can continue to play a crucial role in helping to secure vital medical goods and food for the nation during this unprecedented epidemic.”

The airport served 80.1 million passengers in 2018, according to their website.

That year Heathrow had a total of 475,624 flights take off from the hub in west London.

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The shocking news comes as airline heavyweight British Airways announced measures to help them weather the coronavirus storm.

The airline revealed that more than 30,000 members of staff would be put on furlough.

The airline’s own job retention scheme is similar to that of the Government’s.

Staff are expected to receive 80 percent of their pay plus 80 percent of their allowances.

Heathrow Airport: The airport served 80.1 million passengers in 2018 (Image: GETTY)

A BA spokesman said on Thursday: “Our colleagues have done a brilliant job keeping vital routes open to reunite customers with their families, and bring back supplies to our hospitals, factories and shops.

“But with the challenges of coronavirus, like many airlines, we have been in touch with colleagues to advise that we are implementing the furlough scheme to minimise the financial impact on them.”

Gatwick airport also decided to take the plunge in scaling back its operations due to covid-19.

From Wednesday, the airport closed one of its two terminals.

The airport has also decided to only open its runway for scheduled flights in an eight-hour window between 2pm and 10pm.

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It is believed that the measures will be in place for at least a month.

British Airways recently decided to ground flights from Gatwick airport due to “the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment”.

BA have moved all of their London flights to Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

Compared to Heathrow, Gatwick served 47million passengers last year.