Rumours Suggest Heathrow Will Temporarily Close Terminal 4

Reports suggest that Heathrow Airport could be preparing to close at least one of its terminals in reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic. The airport will remain open for the time being, but closure of terminals will be necessary to match severely reduced demand.

British Airways jets at Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Airport may be preparing to close one of its terminals. Photo: Getty Images

Reports this morning suggest that Heathrow Airport will be temporarily closing one of its terminals as a response to severely depleted passenger traffic. Airlines across the globe have been forced to temporarily halt flights in order to stem the spread of coronavirus, and airports are seeing just a fraction of their normal passenger numbers as a result.

Which terminals will be closed?

According to reports by Executive Traveller this morning, both Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 are being considered for temporary closure. Whichever terminal is chosen for closure may be used to park aircraft during the lockdown.

Reports by Head for Points suggest that it will be Terminal 4 which is closed, with its current flights transferred to the airport’s other terminals, as those are operating under capacity. In addition to Terminal 4, it looks like Terminal 5C will also be closed and used to park aircraft.

Heathrow Terminal 5
Passenger numbers have been massively reduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Giulio Jiang via Flickr

Complete closure on the cards?

While the vast majority of passenger services have been significantly reduced over the past few weeks, it seems unlikely that London Heathrow will be closed entirely under current circumstances. Many tens of thousands of British citizens are thought to be stranded abroad at the moment as a result of travel restrictions and quarantines, meaning there is still a need for active airports.

Certain carriers are still running skeleton services into and out of London and air freight flights are still in operation. In fact, now more than ever, ensuring air freight remains active is a top priority. In a press statement released today, Heathrow Airport said it will “take steps to reorganize and shrink our operation to remain open throughout this crisis.”

An important time for British Airways

As British Airways’ hub, the situation at Heathrow over the next month and beyond will be vitally important for the airline. With terminal closures, British Airways will need to find as many ways as possible to reduce losses as it is forced to ground flights. Shifting flights between terminals may mean that the airline can close its lounges at one terminal entirely, reducing operating costs and minimizing losses.

British Airways Boeing 747-400 at Heathrow Airport
Many of British Airways’ Boeing 747s may never fly again. Photo: Adrian Pingstone via Wikimedia Commons

It looks like the airline will also be grounding a large portion of its fleet as the pandemic continues to unfold. According to Head for Points, sources at British Airways have hinted that the airline’s entire fleet of Airbus A380s, Boeing 777s and Boeing 747s will be grounded.

As the older, less fuel-efficient types in British Airways’ inventory, it makes the most sense to ground these aircraft. This means that many of the airline’s Boeing 747s will unfortunately never fly again, as they were due to be phased out soon anyway. The airline will still be operating a few long haul services, but it will use its Boeing 787s and its Airbus A350s.

Simple Flying has reached out to Heathrow Airport with a request for comment on the potential terminal closures. The airport has not yet been able to respond to our request, but we will update this article when we receive more information.