// Heathrow T4 will remain shut to visitors for another year
// Passenger volumes down 88% year-on-year
// CEO says end of tax-free shopping could be “final nail in the coffin” for businesses
London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 will remain closed to travellers until the end of 2021, as Heathrow’s chief executive warns the end of tax-free shopping could be “the final nail in the coffin for struggling businesses”.
Heathrow passenger volumes fell by 88 per cent year-on-year in November to 747,000 on the back of coronavirus-related travel restrictions and the month-long lockdown in England.
The airport said the drop in travellers and the latest forecasts for recovery have led to the decision to keep Terminal 4 non-operational for a further year.
- Selfridges, Chanel & Bicester Village warn £1bn could be lost in investment on back of tax-free shopping cut
- 50,000 jobs at risk if Treasury scraps tax-free shopping
- UK retail “least attractive in Europe” if tax-free shopping is axed, retailers warn
Heathrow is also continuing to urge the government to abandon plans to abolish tax free shopping for international visitors, saying the “disastrous tourist tax” will hurt UK competitiveness.
The airport has been one of the vocal opponents of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to end tax-free shopping and the VAT refund scheme in January.
“2021 should be the year of Britain’s economic recovery. But recent announcements, such as the tourist tax, could be the final nail in the coffin for struggling businesses such as restaurants, hotels and theatres that rely on inbound tourists, as well as for retailers,” Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said.
“To make Global Britain a reality, the government should be helping the aviation sector to survive, to develop routes to our key trading partners, and attract businesses and tourists to come to Britain to spend their money,” Kaye added.
In November some of the UK’s best-known luxury brands have warned the government that cutting the VAT relief for tourists could result in £1 billion of lost investment.
Selfridges, Chanel, Burberry and Bicester Village parent company Value Retail were among the companies that have warned the UK Government over the Treasury’s decision to end tax-free shopping for international visitors.