Heathrow has urged the government to plot a way out of national lockdown as passenger numbers at the airport continue to crater.
Passenger volumes were down 89 per cent in January as the national lockdown, travel bans, blanket quarantine and compulsory testing deterred people from travelling.
The additional inconvenience and cost of quarantine hotels, two- and eight-day testing requirements on top of other measures mean that the borders are “effectively closed”, a statement said.
Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, added: “We support the government in measures required to protect public health.
“But these additional requirements are essentially a border closure.
“We need to see the flight plan for the safe restart of international travel as part of the prime minister’s roadmap on February 22nd.
“We also need to preserve our vital aviation infrastructure to support economic recovery when it comes and make global Britain a reality.
“That means the chancellor must use next month’s budget to deliver the minimum help that aviation needs with 100 per cent business rates relief and an extension of the furlough scheme.”
Fewer long-haul passenger flights meant that cargo volumes were down 21 per cent at Heathrow in January – a key indicator of the damage that travel restrictions are having on exports and supply chains.