Airport operator Heathrow has said it will keep Terminal 4 closed until the end of next year as the pandemic continues to affect travel.
The company said passenger numbers at the airport fell 88% in November “as travel restrictions and a second lockdown took their toll”.
Based on forecasts and current traffic, it said it would extend the closure of Terminal 4 until the end of 2021.
Heathrow shut the terminal in May during the first national lockdown.
It led to airlines such as Air France, Etihad and KLM moving to Terminal 2.
Separately, Rolls-Royce, the engineering group that make engines for commercial planes, said it expected air travel to “recover slowly” in the first half of next year before an improvement in the second six months as more people receive Covid vaccinations.
At the moment, however, the airline industry is continuing to suffer following a second lockdown in England, firebreaks in areas such as Wales and the ongoing tier system aimed at stopping the spread of Covid.
Heathrow called on the government to extend business rates relief for all airports and to abandon the “disastrous” tourist tax.
It said the tax “will make the UK the only country in Europe not to offer tax-free shopping for international visitors”, and claimed it would result in 2,000 retail job losses at Heathrow alone.
“2021 should be the year of Britain’s economic recovery,” said Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye. “But recent announcements, such as the tourist tax, could be the final nail in the coffin for struggling businesses such restaurants, hotels and theatres that rely on inbound tourists, as well as for retailers.
“To make Global Britain a reality, the government should be helping the aviation sector to survive.”