London Heathrow T3 may reopen this year, T4 closed until 2021

With terminal closures extending to next year, more Oneworld airlines consider relocating to T5.

By David Flynn, July 14 2020
London Heathrow T3 may reopen this year, T4 closed until 2021

London's Heathrow Airport current closure of Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 could extend through to 2021, with several Oneworld member airlines now considering a move to the T5 hub of British Airways.

T3 and T4 were closed across April-May 2020 in response to vastly reduced flights and passenger numbers as the coronavirus settled in for an extended stay, with most airlines being relocated to Terminal 2, the airport's newest terminal which primarily serves as home to Star Alliance members.

Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye says that Terminal 3 may reopen later this year, depending on demand, although Terminal 4 will remain closed until next year.

"I think the test will be when we think we'll see more people coming back to fly in the summer, to go on their summer holidays, and so we expect to see an uplift there," Holland-Kaye said during an interview with CNN. "Will they then come back and fly for business in September and October? That's the critical time. And we won't know until we get there."

Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye: terminal openings remain subject to demand.
Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye: terminal openings remain subject to demand.

T3 would need to reach a minimum viable threshold of traffic to reopen, which makes any date subject to each wave of travel restrictions and border closures.

American Airlines has already decamped from T2 to T5, where it now runs several daily flights to the USA as well as tapping into easier UK and European connections for inbound travellers via British Airways and Iberia, and is looking to make T5 its permanent London base.

"While the move has been driven by terminal consolidation measures... as air traffic movements increase, American Airlines, British Airways and Heathrow Airport will seek to agree a bilateral future operational strategy for Terminal 5," a spokesman for American Airlines told Executive Traveller.

Cathay Pacific is understandably eager to move back into T3 and its highly-regarded lounges.
Cathay Pacific is understandably eager to move back into T3 and its highly-regarded lounges.

Both Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways, which were previously based at T4 and operated their own lounges at the terminal, are now cooling their heels at T2, alongside Cathay Pacific.

While Cathay's significant investment in its Terminal 3 first class and business class lounges would make the airline eager to return to T3 – along with Virgin Atlantic, which will restart flights to New York and Los Angeles next week – Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways would be more likely to temporarily relocate to T5. Neither airline had replied to a request for comment by the time this article was published.

A Finnair spokesperson, when asked about a shift from T3 to T5, told Executive Traveller "the date is not yet confirmed...  at this point we do not have a timeline to be communicated."

A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport told Executive Traveller there was "no timeline" for any forthcoming airline moves from T3 to T5.

Qantas, which also has its own lounge at Terminal 3, has scrubbed plans for international flights until mid-2021.

BA has now reopened some of its T5 lounges, with a difference...
BA has now reopened some of its T5 lounges, with a difference...

In related news, Heathrow will close one of its two runways for repairs at the height of the northern summer season, a reflection of passenger traffic that remains near rock bottom because of coronavirus lockdowns.

The landing strip will be shut down over coming weeks to allow preliminary works to take place, before reopening during the day with construction activity taking place at night, the airport says.

The number of people passing through Heathrow was down 95% in June from a year earlier, after the introduction of quarantine rules for arriving passengers cut occupancy levels by 10%, the airport said Monday. Sequentially, that’s barely an improvement from levels seen in April and May at the height of travel curbs.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg News.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 83

I thought and thought Of what to write, and all I can say is - it's so very sad.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 365

T5 would need to build some further satellite terminals, if all of oneworld was to move there. And given QF and CX have both spent large amounts of money on lounges in T3, I would think they would want to stay where they are for a while yet.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2395

Exactly so, Cathay and Qantas will be eager to get back to T3, but for other ex-T3 Oneworld airlines without a substantial lounge investment at stake (eg Finnair, JAL), it's less an issue.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 981

I'd like to know what CX and QF knew about the LHR long term plans when they decided to build those lounges.

It's been known for some time that the airport plans to expand T2 and T5 and build a new T6 along with the new runway, while removing T3. The time frame given for these works keeps changing though.

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 83

I agree! They'd both laugh at the BA lounges! I reckon AA will be the only one to move to T5.

05 May 2016

Total posts 576

Considering the borders in Australia are closed and likely to remain so for some time, with our government taking a conservative approach, one would expect it's quite likely T3 may be open again by the time QF resumes a "new normal" of 787 flights to London (as opposed to the previous A380).


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