Heathrow to shut a terminal for a year as passenger numbers drop 88%

FILE PHOTO: An air passenger pushes luggage at Heathrow Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London, Britain, May 10, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Heathrow Airport, which during the pandemic has lost its crown as the busiest airport in Europe, posted an 88% fall in passenger numbers in November and said one of its terminals would stay shut until the end of next year.

The pandemic has choked air travel and ongoing restrictions across the world along with England’s second lockdown in November pushed passenger numbers at the airport down by more than October’s 82% decline.

Heathrow said those falls meant it would keep Terminal 4, one of its four terminals, closed until the end of 2021.

The airport group has started legal action against Britain’s decision to end tax-free shopping for tourists from Jan. 1, which it said will result in retail job losses at the airport, and further harm a business already suffering from COVID-19.

In October, the drop in passenger numbers meant Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris overtook Heathrow as Europe’s busiest airport, dealing a blow to the UK’s global trade ambitions after Brexit.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden