Heathrow Airport has announced that Terminal 3 will be reopening on 1st June.
This isn’t, as you may expect, to allow Virgin Atlantic and Delta to move back home. Instead, it is to offer a dedicated arrivals facility for passengers returning from ‘red list’ countries.
These arrivals are obliged to undertake 10 days supervised hotel quarantine after arrival.
A Heathrow spokesperson said:
“Red list routes will likely be a feature of UK travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates. We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality by initially opening a dedicated arrivals facility in Terminal 3 from 1 June for red list passengers arriving on direct flights. We will move this facility to Terminal 4 as soon as operationally possible.
“While opening this facility will be very challenging logistically, our hope is that it will enable Border Force to carry out its duties more efficiently as passenger volumes increase in line with the green list.”
Heathrow has given little indication so far on how this will work. It is not clear if aircraft will depart and arrive from Terminal 3, just arrive into Terminal 3, or indeed arrive into Terminals 2 and 5 as usual with passengers bussed to Terminal 3 for processing. The latter two options appear most likely.
Once Terminal 4 has reopened, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines can move back into Terminal 3. This would relieve some of the pressure that will build on Terminal 2 and Terminal 5 as passenger numbers increase.
This move also means, of course, that no British Airways or American Airlines flights will be returning to Terminal 3 in the short term.