Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport will reopen on June 14 after a more than two-year hiatus, with Qatar Airways scheduled to be the first airline to use the terminal again.
In the early days of the pandemic, in April 2020, when the first wave of travel restrictions caused worldwide demand for air travel to fall, Terminal 4 was immediately shut down.
For the majority of the pandemic, Heathrow kept two of its four terminal buildings closed, and airlines were temporarily consolidated in Terminal 2 and Terminal 5. However, it has been increasingly evident in recent months that Heathrow is straining to cope with severe space limits.
Adverts, signs, and publications converted Terminal 4 into a giant time capsule as airlines abandoned the premises at short notice for most of the pandemic.
Heathrow claims to have upgraded restrooms, air conditioning, and hold luggage screening machinery while the airport was closed for an extended period.
The structure was partially reopened in December 2021 to serve as a dedicated arrivals terminal for travelers arriving from countries on the Red List who were required to spend two weeks in government-controlled hotel quarantine. After the Red List legislation was repealed, the institution was closed just months later.
Heathrow said it aimed to reopen the terminal by July as travel restrictions began to be lifted. Qatar Airways will return to the terminal on June 14, a week ahead of schedule, and a plethora of other carriers will return over the course of several weeks.
Nearly 30 airlines use Terminal 4 at Heathrow, though Aeroflot Russian Airlines, which was blacklisted by the British government, will not be returning anytime soon.
Heathrow has been chastised by numerous carriers, notably British Airways, for not reopening Terminal 4 sooner, but the airport claims that passenger numbers have increased to the point where it is necessary to reopen the terminal.
“While we are still years away from passenger numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels, reopening Terminal 4 will give airlines at Heathrow extra space across the airport, helping them manage the impact additional travel documents continue to have on check-in times,” commented Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye.
The airport is employing up to 1,000 new security agents, but warns that “balancing supply and demand during this intense recovery phase is not always easy.”
“At peak times there have been long queues than usual at check-in, security, immigration and baggage reclaim, but it has been well organized and has kept moving,” a spokesperson for the airport said on Monday.
Terminal 4 was the home of British Airways until Terminal 5 was finished in 2008. It was opened by His Royal Highness Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1986 at a cost of £200 million.
Before the pandemic, the terminal had undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment and was home to the Skyteam alliance, which served about 35 airlines.