Britain’s Heathrow has not yet seen much impact from coronavirus on the number of people travelling through Europe’s busiest airport but it is taking precautions which go beyond official guidance to reassure passengers, its chief executive said.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have cancelled their flights between London’s Heathrow and China, the centre of the virus outbreak, but Chinese airlines such as China Eastern continue to operate between the countries.
“We’ve not seen much impact on the number of people travelling,” Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye told BBC radio on Wednesday.
“We are doing reasonable precautions which do go beyond those recommendations (from Public Health England) just to make sure people stay safe and are reassured,” he said.
“Deep cleaning across the airport where people might be touching handrails, making sure that we have plentiful supplies of hand sanitiser both for colleagues and for passengers.”
Passenger temperatures would be monitored in future if that is what health authorities say should happen, he added.
Heathrow also on Wednesday reported adjusted core earnings (EBITDA) of 1.9 billion pounds ($2.47 billion) for 2019, up 4.6%, on revenues that rose 3.4% to 3.1 billion pounds, boosted by higher passenger numbers.
The airport has a project to build a third runway, which it says it can do without compromising environmental targets, but the expansion is subject to a legal challenge.
Heathrow has warned that France’s hub airport Charles de Gaulle is set to overtake Heathrow as the busiest airport in Europe in the next two years. Holland-Kaye said that building the new runway will help boost UK trade links.
Heathrow Airport is owned by Ferrovial, Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp, among others.