Figures published by Heathrow Airport have revealed an 82% drop in traffic in October, with warnings that November could be even worse. 

Heathrow dealt with just 1.6 million passengers last month, down from 7.06 million in October 2019. 

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “Aviation is the lifeblood of the UK’s economy, critical for exports of goods and services and imports of vaccines, as well as inbound tourism, students and foreign direct investment.

“Lack of Government action is weakening our sector, making it harder for us to support the eventual economic recovery and help deliver the Prime Minister’s vision of a global Britain.”

At least 500 job cuts have been announced by Heathrow itself, with many thousands still at risk. 

Heathrow recorded a loss of £1.5 billion in the first nine months of the year. 

As well as passenger operations, overall cargo volumes were down by 23% compared to last year.

Heathrow has warned that the UK’s aviation industry is essential to the supply chain of temperature-sensitive, time-critical goods. 

Around 41% of the UK’s pharmaceutical supplies are imported via Heathrow airport alone, statistics show. 

The downturn in passengers is also having a significant impact on the local economy and surrounding businesses. 

Independent research carried out by Oxford Economics found that the reduction in activity could result in a £1 billion loss to Hounslow’s economy over the next three years. 

Around 40,000 people are reliant on Heathrow and its supply chain for employment in the borough. 

CEO of West London Business, Andrew Dakers said: “We’ve seen the hit over the past nine months. 

“There’s been a massive contraction of West London’s economy, which is intertwined with aviation and the airport.

“From day one of the pandemic, there has been a ripple effect right the way through from ground handling to logistics, through to cargo, and food supply chains.”

Dakers also spoke of the importance of finding a long-term solution to testing passengers.

“We need to get flights moving again. All else flows from that,” he said.

The Government announced this week that passengers arriving in England can reduce self-isolation by at least a week if they take a private test. 

Heathrow is offering Oxford LAMP rapid COVID-19 tests to passengers travelling to other countries, but these have not yet been approved for UK arrivals.

The airport has also criticised the Government’s refusal to offer English airports business rates relief, warning of the risks of worsening an “already challenging” situation. 

Dakers said: “A fair deal has got to be found for Heathrow and for Hillingdon as a collecting authority of business rates. 

“It’s bonkers that you’ve got supermarkets getting business rate relief, but not airports."