Heathrow Remains Busy While Other London Airports Fall Quiet

The UK remains in lockdown, with most outbound international travel not permitted. In addition, pre-travel testing became mandatory on Monday, while the country removed its few remaining travel corridors. But just how are London’s six airports coping with the current situation? Simple Flying dug through data from FlightRadar24.com to find out. (All the graphs in this article can be expanded by clicking on them).

Planes Taking Off At Heathrow Airport Over A One Hour Period
London airports are suffering from the current restrictions but by how much? Photo: Getty Images

Heathrow remains busy

While London Heathrow’s passenger number is still significantly lower than this time last year due to the ongoing impact of Europe’s second wave of COVID-19, it remains considerably busier than London’s other airports. On Thursday, Heathrow Airport handled a total of 211 movements. This comprised of 102 departures and 109 arrivals. For comparison, according to data from the Civil Aviation Authority, the airport handled roughly 1,223 scheduled passenger movements per day in January 2020.

London Airports, Covid-19, Passenger Drop
Heathrow handled 210 flight movements yesterday, including cargo flights. Data: FlightRadar24.com | Graph: Simple Flying

The airport handled an average of 11 movements per hour, with a peak from 14:00 to 14:59 when 20 movements were achieved, ten arrivals, and ten departures. After 16:00, the number of movements dropped significantly. Understandably, the day started with only arrivals and ended with only departures.

British Airways Boeing 777-300ER New York JFK
British Airways was responsible for 80 flight movements to London Heathrow yesterday. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

Unsurprisingly, British Airways operated the most flights (80), followed by, Virgin Atlantic (16) and American Airlines (13). All of the other airlines that operated four or more movements are listed on the doughnut chart below,

London Airports, Covid-19, Passenger Drop
British Airways operated 38% of total movements yesterday. Data: FlightRadar24.com | Graph: Simple Flying

Stansted Airport handled just six passenger movements

While things look positive for London Heathrow, given the circumstances, the same can’t be said for the other London area airports, with their traffic remaining almost non-existent. Indeed, commercial traffic was non-existent at London Southend Airport.

London Airports, Covid-19, Passenger Drop
Stansted had just three departing passenger flights yesterday. Photo: London Stansted Airport

Stansted was the busiest airport for commercial movements. However, this was primarily supported by cargo flight movements. When these are removed, the airport handled just three return flights, one from Loganair, Ryanair, and Pegasus Airlines. For comparison, in January 2020, Stansted had an average of 420 scheduled passenger movements a day, according to data from the CAA, equating to a 98.6% decrease. With just three outbound flights yesterday, the Stansted terminal was surely eerie.

London Airports, Covid-19, Passenger Drop
London’s non-Heathrow airports barely saw any passenger traffic yesterday. Data: FlightRadar24.com | Graph: Simple Flying

Luton and Gatwick were slightly busier

Luton was the busiest airport for commercial passenger flights (18 movements), supported by flights from Wizz Air. However, it found itself empty for much of the day. The airport handled six movements between 07:00 and 09:59. Then it fell quiet until 17:00.

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London Gatwick handled 17 movements, primarily from low-cost carriers. However, it also took five British Airways movements. Meanwhile, slightly further north at City Airport, things were just as bad. The Thames-side airport handled ten movements, two return flights from British Airways and KLM, and one return flight from LOT Polish Airlines.

London Airports, Covid-19, Passenger Drop
Wizz Air operated the most flights to London of any carrier excluding Heathrow. Data: FlightRadar24.com | Graph: Simple Flying

What do you make of the state of London’s airports? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.