Why is Heathrow open at ALL? Airport announces it will remain operational with one runway amid falling flight numbers and fury from passengers at lack of medical advice when they arrive back from coronavirus hotspots
- London hub will operate landings and takeoffs from 1 strip from Monday April 6
- Passengers returning to the UK have bemoaned the lack of checks on landing
- One passenger said that they were unsure if they needed to go into quarantine
- Coronavirus has infected more than one million and killed 53,000 world wide
Heathrow Airport has sparked fury after announcing it will keep one of its runways open amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Furious passengers returning to the UK bemoaned the lack of checks and advice upon landing as the spread of the killer bug – that has infected more than one million and killed 53,000 – intensifies.
The London hub will operate its landings and takeoffs from one strip from Monday April 6 to ‘increase resilience and safety for staff, passengers and cargo’.
The airport has two runways and will alternate which one they keep open on a weekly basis.
Heathrow Airport has sparked fury after announcing it will remain open with just one runway amid the coronavirus crisis. Pictured: Heathrow Airport arrivals today
But travellers were quick to point out the lack of tests on landing, and questioned why the airport remains open at all.
Dani Wright wrote: ‘Why haven’t they closed airports by now this is ridiculous. You can’t stem a flow if the flood gates are still open!’
Jo Hop added: ‘Plane loads arriving at Heathrow from heavily affected areas before 6pm today. We are not fighting this virus. We’re importing it.’
Travellers were quick to point out the lack of tests on landing, and questioned why the airport remains open at all
Bryony Williams wrote on Twitter: ‘Still can’t fathom that in Asia if you enter a shop or the airport etc you get your temperature checked everywhere.
And then I arrive back in the UK and you literally waltz through Heathrow.’
Responding to a Tweet by Heathrow’s official Twitter page, Gill Hunt wrote: ‘Are you allowing people into the UK from places such as Italy and New York, any places abroad and not doing any Covid-19 testing.
‘Thus allowing people carrying the virus to just walk into the UK onto buses and trains and possibly passing the virus on.’
The airport’s account replied stating that Government advice suggests that temperature checks are ineffective to prevent the spread.
Ms Hunt replied asking: ‘People are being allowed in this country who could have the virus and what are the airports doing about it?’
In a statement about the airport closures, the airline wrote: ‘Although we are seeing significantly fewer flights at the moment, Heathrow will remain open so that we can continue to play a crucial role in helping to secure vital medical goods and food for the nation during this unprecedented epidemic.’
Britons arriving to London’s Heathrow Airport said they were left ‘shocked’ by the very few health checks being carried out and the lack of medical advice available which left them unsure about whether to go into quarantine.
One passenger Mete Coban, a 27-year-old charity pioneer and Hackney councillor, who returned to Heathrow Airport from the U.S. on March 16, said: ‘Considering just how seriously authorities were treating Covid-19 in the US, I was shocked at just how little the UK authorities seemed to care when arriving at Heathrow.
One passenger Mete Coban (left), 27, who returned to Heathrow Airport from the U.S. on March 16, said it was ‘completely irresponsible that we’re not at least providing guidance to people about social distancing’
‘I think it’s completely irresponsible that we’re not at least providing guidance to people about social distancing and giving medical advice.’
While Chloe Sloggett, a 24-year-old aesthetics practitioner from north London, who arrived at Heathrow on Saturday with her fiancé Toby Hastie, said there were far more medical checks in place in Cambodia and Malaysia than upon her arrival in the UK.
Ms Sloggett, who has been self-isolating since returning home, said: ‘As we walked through Heathrow there were posters to explain dos/don’ts and signs to keep two metres’ distance, but no-one there was enforcing it.
‘We had our temperature checked in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) twice and then again in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), but nothing when we landed in the UK.’
Meanwhile Marc Wilson, a 33-year-old postman from Southampton, said he was similarly confused by a lack of advice on what to do upon his arrival from Guatemala via Mexico and the US.
Mr Wilson, who landed at Heathrow on Sunday morning, said: ‘In the Americas, I was checked at every land border, every flight, I had doctors asking me questions.
‘I landed at Heathrow and there was no advice or anything. I couldn’t see any answers online whether I had to go in quarantine or not.’
The Department of Health said the advice for all Britons, whether returning to the UK or not, was the same – to stay at home and only leave if essential.
However, other countries have introduced strict quarantine measures for those entering the country.
Meanwhile Marc Wilson, 33, from Southampton, said he was not issued with any advice about whether he needed to go into quarantine when he arrived at Heathrow
This includes in the US and New Zealand, where travellers must isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival.
Nick Russell, who is due to return to the UK from Auckland in the coming days, said confusion reigned over whether he and his wife would be subject to quarantine.
Mr Russell, from Berkshire, said: ‘We have very little idea what happens when we arrive at Heathrow.
‘Will we be escorted to some compulsory 14-days quarantine facility? Can we be met by a friend to take us home? What can we do when we arrive home?
‘There are simply no written answers we can find on the Government website.’
It comes as British Airways struck a deal with its unions to suspend more than 30,000 cabin crew and ground staff in one of the airline industry’s most dramatic moves yet to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
British Airways struck a deal with its unions to suspend more than 30,000 cabin crew and ground staff in one of the airline industry’s most dramatic moves yet to survive the coronavirus pandemic (stock image)
With global travel in turmoil as the virus takes hold around the world, BA’s owner, IAG, said it would also cut capacity by 90 per cent in April and May, and scrap its dividend, in a desperate bid to survive the worst crisis in its history.
With BA having already agreed a 50 per cent pay cut for its pilots, the deal focuses on cabin and ground crew, engineers and office staff.
Union chiefs had already announced that BA will furlough a large majority of its workforce on 80 per cent pay.
Heathrow Airport has been approached for comment.
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