Heathrow expects slow start to 2022 as Omicron raises new fears

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London Heathrow Airport (LHR) expects to carry 45 million passengers in 2022, almost half the amount compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

“We do not expect that international travel will recover to 2019 levels until at least all travel restrictions (including testing) are removed from all the markets that we serve, at both ends of the route,” Heathrow Airport announced in a statement.  

The travel demand at Heathrow is currently 60% lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019 despite the resumption of transatlantic flights in November 2021.  

The slow passenger traffic is largely attributed to renewed travel restrictions introduced due to Omicron variant detected in late November 2021. The airport is observing the latest cancellations by business travelers that are “concerned with being trapped overseas”. 

On December 7, 2021, the UK government re-introduced pre-departure tests for all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, arriving to the UK to tackle the spread of Omicron variant. According to re-introduced rules, people coming from red list countries must self-isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel. 

“By allowing Brits to isolate at home, Ministers can make sure they are reunited with their loved ones this Christmas. It would send a strong signal that restrictions on travel will be removed as soon as safely possible to give passengers the confidence to book for 2022, opening up thousands of new jobs for local people at Heathrow,” Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye said. 


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