Heathrow Stockpiles Rubber Gloves, Scanners for No-Deal Brexit

Aircrafts taxi along the perimeter of the north runway, center, and past passenger terminal buildings at London Heathrow Airport. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

London’s Heathrow airport has begun stockpiling imported items to guard against the impact of a no-deal Brexit -- including rubber gloves and swabs used for scanning passengers and luggage at security controls, as well as Dutch parts for its baggage carousels.

Like other U.K. businesses, the country’s busiest air hub has begun storing up European Union-sourced goods to ensure that it can carry on functioning should Britain crash out of the bloc without an agreed settlement on March 29, Chief Executive Officer John Holland-Kaye said in an interview Friday.

At the same time, a no-deal split could bring a windfall in air-freight movements as some products that currently travel in and out of the U.K. by truck are shipped by plane by companies anxious to avoid supply-chain disruptions, Holland-Kaye said, though that’s not something that’s visible yet.

Day-to-day operations at the airport should carry on functioning as normal given agreements in place between the U.K. and EU to maintain flights even in a hard Brexit, the CEO said.

“The reason I’m confident is that a lot of the things that we were worried about six months ago, like if planes would be able to fly, there have been agreements on both sides that that will happen even in the worst-case scenario,” he said.

Holland-Kaye said a “real pragmatism” is emerging as people come to terms with the real possibility of leaving without a deal, he said. DM


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