Heathrow has warned that it is suffering from catastrophic decline as traffic in October declined by 82 per cent, compared with the same period last year, and November is ‘likely to be worse”.

The slump in traffic is for the eight consecutive month as the airport heads into a month of an effective travel ban.

Heathrow says that “long haul and critical markets for trade suffered the worst declines due to the Government’s debilitating quarantine requirements”.

Its overall cargo volumes were down 23 per cent compared to last year. North America, the UK’s biggest export market, was hardest hit by the downturn.

While the drop in passenger traffic is expected, Heathrow is also pointing out that the UK’s aviation industry “…is essential to the supply chain of temperature-sensitive, time-critical goods like vaccines – 41 per cent of the UK’s pharmaceutical supplies are imported via Heathrow alone”.

The whole travel industry is waiting the outcome of the Government’s Travel Taskforce and the possibility of ‘test and release’ to help restart travel, albeit in a limited way.

Heathrow is offering Oxford LAMP rapid COVID-19 tests to passengers travelling to other countries, but these are not yet approved for UK arrivals Heathrow says that the lack of a testing regime has left British airports “unable to compete with EU rivals”.

In addition, “the refusal to offer English and Welsh airports business rates relief runs the risk of worsening an already challenging situation and the plans to end VAT-free shopping threatens to kick our industry when its down”.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “Aviation is the lifeblood of the UK’s economy, critical for exports of goods and services and imports of vaccines, as well as inbound tourism, students and foreign direct investment. Lack of Government action is weakening our sector, making it harder for us to support the eventual economic recovery and help deliver the Prime Minister’s vision of a global Britain.”