This is a temporary measure due to the substantial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on Heathrow’s operations. As a result of the Government’s decision to implement a second lockdown which prohibits all but essential travel, and similar restrictions in Europe, the airport management is anticipating that the airport will shortly return to similar traffic levels seen in May this year – at around a 97% reduction in passenger levels compared with 2019.
Moving to single runway operations will provide safety improvements, such as reducing runway crossings, ensuring that the airport is able to remain open with such minimal aircraft movements. It will also improve the airports' ability to adapt to any reduction in staffing levels either from NATS or our Airfield Operations colleagues as a result of rising COVID-19 levels.
"During the period of single runway operations there may be times when we do need to operate on both runways for a short period of time", the airport reported. "Mainly when there are peak periods (e.g. if there are a higher number of arrivals in the morning which is normally our busiest time of the day), or if we experience adverse weather conditions."
This time of year is when fog and strong winds are most prevalent which can heavily impact our operations. For example, poor weather conditions can mean that the number of departures that are able to take off each hour has to be reduced for safety reasons, along with increased spacing between arriving aircraft.
The knock-on effect of this can lead to flights operating later than usual in order for us to recover from the disruption, and so to mitigate against this, we would look to use both runways during poor weather conditions to prevent further delays and disruption.
"At present we are not able to predict how long we will need to operate in this way, but we will continue to review this situation and will look to revert to our usual operation when the number of daily aircraft movements significantly increases", the airport management reported.
© Reuters, aero.uk | Image: Heathrow Airport | 06/11/2020 17:02