Heathrow airport, the busiest in Europe until the coronavirus pandemic, dropped out of the top 10 in August. The west London hub carried just 18 per cent of the passengers in that month compared with August 2019.
As the crisis continues to devastate UK aviation, Heathrow has been overtaken by its three traditional giant rivals: Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
According to analysis by Ralph Anker for the Anker Report, four Russian and three Turkish airports also carried more travellers than Heathrow, which has moved down the league to 11th place.
At the top of the table is Moscow Domodedovo, closely followed by the Russian capital’s second airport, Sheremetyevo.
The third Moscow airport, Vnokovo, makes the top 10, as does St Petersburg’s Pulkovo.
Mr Anker said that was due to special circumstances: “Russian domestic air travel was almost at 2019 levels in August, thanks to locals taking their summer holidays at resort destinations within Russia on the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea.”
Relatively strong domestic travel in Turkey led to both Istanbul airports leapfrogging Heathrow. In addition, the southern city of Antalya – serving resorts in southern Turkey – took seventh place.
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During August, Turkey was one of few Mediterranean countries to which British holidaymakers could travel to without needing to self-isolate for two weeks on their return.
Quarantine now applies to returning travellers from almost all countries, even though the UK’s infection rates are far higher than most nations.
With carriers including easyJet and Ryanair cutting back flights as demand dries up, Mr Anker said: “Governments across Europe and around the world appear to be doing their level best to kill off the demand for air travel by introducing ever more quarantine requirements or even just complete travel bans.”
In the September figures released this morning by Heathrow, traffic remained at 18 per cent of the 2019 level.
Just 40,000 passengers passed through the UK’s busiest airport on the average day last month – compared with 220,000 before the Covid-19 crisis.
Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said the UK aviation industry needed action from government to allow more people to travel.
“Implementing ‘test and release’ after five days of quarantine would kick start the economy,” he said.
“But the government could show real leadership by working with the US to develop a common international standard for pre-departure testing that would mean that only Covid-free passengers are allowed to travel from high risk countries.”
Mr Holland-Kaye has said that a link between Heathrow and New York JFK could be established by November.
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