Terminal 4 reopens at Heathrow Airport ahead of 'summer peak' after 2 year closure

After closing due to the pandemic, the airport says it plans to ramp up airport capacity ahead of the summer. Credit: PA Images.

Terminal 4 (T4) at Heathrow Airport is opening today (Tuesday 14 June) for the first time in two years.

It was forced to close due to the pandemic, when passenger numbers plummeted and countries around the world enforced travel restrictions.

Now with passenger numbers rising and travel rules relaxing, the reopening of T4 will create more space and capacity to deal with the 'summer peak' across all four terminals.

Heathrow says it has been working behind the scenes throughout the last two years to modernise the terminal, including a refurbishment of toilets, air conditioning and hold baggage screening machines.

Some 5.3 million people travelled through the west London airport in May.

Although that was around a fifth lower than the total for the same month in 2019, it represents nearly an eight-fold increase on May last year when the UK’s Covid-19 travel restrictions were in place.

Heathrow is one of several UK airports which have seen long queues in recent weeks as the aviation sector struggles to cope with the spike in demand for travel amid a staffing shortage.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “I’m immensely proud of the way my team has worked with airlines and other partners to ensure passengers got away during the Jubilee half-term.

“We continue to make good progress with our plans to ramp up capacity and are working closely with airlines and Government to keep supply and demand in balance as we grow, so that passengers can travel through Heathrow this summer with confidence.”

The airport claimed “recent criticism of service levels across the sector” highlight that its proposal to increase airlines’ fees for using the airport up to 2027 is “the right one for consumers”.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is expected to set a new cap on the airport’s charges this summer.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “We now need a regulatory settlement from the CAA that protects service and resilience levels, incentivises investment and maintains affordable private financing.

“Failure to invest risks degrading passenger experience at a time when it has never been more important for operations to ramp up smoothly.”

Airlines are strongly opposed to an increase in fees.