Omicron surge saw 600,000 passengers cancel Heathrow flights in December

More than half a million people cancelled flights from Heathrow in December alone due to travel fears about the Omicron variant, the airport has said.

The emergence of the new Covid strain sparked a number of new travel restrictions worldwide – and renewed fears among passengers that they could be stranded or face huge bills.

Now Heathrow has revealed that at least 600,000 people scrapped their plans because of the development.

Fears around Omicron meant that, from late November, all UK arrivals had to take a pre-departure lateral flow test and self-isolate until they received a negative result from a post-arrival PCR test.

That led to many people scrapping their travel plans over the festive period, as cases surges and fears around further restrictions mounted.

A total of 19.4 million people travelled through Heathrow across the whole of last year.

That was less than a quarter of pre-pandemic level in 2019, and 12.3% down on 2020.

And Heathrow warned that it could be ‘years’ before the sector fully recovers.

The airport’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: ‘There are currently travel restrictions, such as testing, on all Heathrow routes.

‘The aviation industry will only fully recover when these are all lifted and there is no risk that they will be reimposed at short notice, a situation which is likely to be years away.’

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