Heathrow is set to suspend its Free Travel Zone from January 1, 2021, due to the financial impact of Covid-19 on the company’s future.

This comes after the airport warned that it is suffering from catastrophic decline, as traffic in October declined by 82 per cent compared with the same period last year.

The news was revealed in an email posted on Twitter. The email also suggests that the Heathrow Travelcard scheme, which provides discounted travel on buses and coaches, will be discontinued.

The Heathrow Free Travel Zone (HFTZ) is a zone encircling Heathrow Airport and the surrounding area where travel on public transport is free to use. The HFTZ is normally subsidised by the airport, meaning that the buses are free to use, with no need for any ticket, oyster card or contactless card. To find out more about the Heathrow Free Travel Zone, read our feature

What is the Heathrow Free Travel Zone?

A Heathrow spokesperson told Business Traveller:

“We have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the Heathrow Free Travel Zone and end some other local transport subsidies, effective from 1st January 2021. These steps have been taken under considerable cost pressures, as we end the ninth consecutive month with hugely reduced revenue and very little help from the Government in areas such as business rate alleviation or testing.

“As soon as financial health is restored, we are committed to reinstate an improved programme of subsidised and sustainable travel. This difficult choice reminds us all that the best way to keep building Heathrow as a pillar of opportunity, innovation and social improvement is to get the business back to growth as soon as possible.”

Earlier this year, Heathrow was overtaken by Paris Charles de Gaulle as Europe’s busiest airport, due to the falling demand for air travel and the lack of Covid-19 testing facilities.