Heathrow is to reduce passenger operations into just two terminals as business drops by at least 90%.

Passenger numbers more than halved in March as the UK entered lockdown to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures released today show that the level of passengers handled shrunk by 52% year-on-year to 3.1 million.

Many of those journeys were repatriations, following global travel restrictions as well as Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel.

The London hub warned that the situation is expected to continue as initial forecasts show passenger demand in April is set to plummet by more than 90%, with “lasting and significant” industry-wide effects predicted.

Heathrow moved to single runway operations on April 6 and will consolidate operations into Terminals 2 and 5 only in the coming weeks.

“The move will protect long-term jobs at the airport by reducing operating costs, helping Heathrow to remain financially resilient,” the airport said.

Heathrow is now using its available capacity to prioritise cargo flights with medical supplies.

“The airport is well-placed to receive time-critical and temperature-sensitive medical supplies, such as ventilators, medicines and COVID-19 testing kits,” a statement said.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow continues to serve the nation by keeping vital supply lines open, and helping people get home.

“Now is the time to agree a common international standard for healthcare screening in airports so that when this crisis recedes, people can travel with confidence and we can get the British economy moving again.”

Loganair flew from Heathrow for the first time in its 58-year history. The airline will be operating from Heathrow on an interim basis following the closure of London City airport to maintain connections between the capital and the Isle of Man.

Heathrow also has the only remaining air link to Belfast, with the airport serving as an airbridge to Northern Ireland during the pandemic.

The airport said: “Heathrow is working closely with Public Health England to implement measures to ensure passenger safety.

“These measures include the provision of hundreds of hand sanitiser dispensers, additional cleaning and sanitation procedures as well as signage and floor stickers to remind passengers to socially distance.

“Our colleagues are also on hand to help manage the queues and ensure safe and adequate spacing between passengers.

“Heathrow is ready to work with government and industry on science and research to develop measures for rapid health screening of passengers prior to travel.

“The airport is looking to develop processes which will help provide future passengers peace of mind when flying, but wants to ensure there is an international consensus for common measures – so the benefits of global travel can be realised to support the economic and social recovery from Covid-19.”

Heathrow donated 6,000 face masks last week to NHS teams working at Thames Valley Air Ambulance and Hillingdon Hospital.

The airport has also provided educational resources to local schools and has redeployed ‘community rangers’ to assist with delivering donations to local food banks.