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An exterior view of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

London’s Heathrow Airport Undergoes Recovery Phase For Summer Travel Demand

The U.K. aviation industry has observed a strong recovery after scrapping travel restrictions in March. London’s Heathrow Airport — the busiest airport in the country — recorded 5.3 million passengers had traveled in May, the busiest month since March 2020, the figure has reached 79% of 2019 levels. The airport unveiled that 1.4 million passengers had traveled to North America and nearly two million to Europe last month.

According to the airport, the check-in procedure generally worked well, 90% of passengers were through security in less than 10 minutes. No flights were canceled at short notice than on any normal day, and the Border Force performed well. Heathrow is one of the airports in the country that experienced long lines in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Heathrow said the operations were smooth during the Easter Holidays and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, as a result of working closely with other airports in the U.K. and Europe.

Initially, after lifting the travel restrictions in the country, travelers across the country encountered travel disruptions. Heathrow said that it has rebuilt its capacity despite the resources being limited.

The airlines were also accused of overbooking their flights. The government believed this is one of the reasons of the chaos and demanded the airlines “to address those issue”.

With no end in sight to the travel chaos nationwide, John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO urged the airlines and airports have to “plan much better” to avoid further disruptions.

“I think it will take 12 to 18 months for the aviation sector to fully recover capacity,” Holland-Kaye added.

Hundreds of British Airways ground staff at Heathrow have begun voting on strike action over the salaries — an industrial action could take place during the summer holidays.

Terminal Four Reopens

Meanwhile, Heathrow has announced that terminal four will reopen on June 14, which is one month earlier than expected, in response to the demand surge. 30 airlines, including El AI, ITA Airways and Korean Air will move to terminal four. During the closure of the terminal, Heathrow has upgraded its air conditioning, baggage screening machines and restrooms.

The airport also revealed that it will hire up to 1,000 employees to meet the travel demand after the pandemic. Also, the airport increased its customer service team for better service.

In the wake of business travelers returning to the skies, Heathrow expanded its route map to North America. British Airways launched a brand-new service to Portland, Ore. The flag carrier became the only carrier to operate the new route. The five-times-a-week service will be operated by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Also, the carrier has started a new daytime service from Newark, N.J. to Heathrow and relaunched service between Pittsburgh, P.A. to Heathrow.

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