London Heathrow announces response to Coronavirus

As the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to hit global travel and present unprecedented challenges for the aviation industry, London Heathrow Airport has issued its latest response on March 20.

Heathrow said that the airport will take steps to reorganise and shrink its operations, but will remain open throughout this crisis. The decision to keep the airport open will enable some passenger services to continue, as well as facilitating cargo operations which will safeguard vital supply lines for the UK.

However, a separate report said that the Heathrow has closed almost all of its business and first class lounges following a decree by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to shut down social hubs such as pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and gyms across the country.

Whilst remaining open for essential transport, Heathrow expects that its financial performance will be significantly impacted by the situation, saying: ‘We are taking a number of immediate actions to safeguard the financial resilience of the business. Initial steps we have already taken include reducing operating costs, cancelling executive pay, freezing recruitment and reviewing all capital projects.’

The management team will review further actions which may need to be taken as the situation continues to develop. It says that the business is well funded and in a robust financial position, with cash and committed facilities available of £3.3bn designed to maintain at least a 12-month liquidity horizon.

Commenting on the impact of Coronavirus on the aviation sector, a Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘The impact of Coronavirus is a significant challenge for the global aviation industry including Heathrow and our colleagues, airlines, suppliers and fellow airports. We are taking immediate steps to safeguard the financial resilience of our business including the protection of jobs, whilst providing relief to our airline partners and wider industry colleagues. This is a quickly evolving situation and we stand ready to take any further and necessary measures to support our colleagues and industry partners as this situation develops.’