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Paris airport overtakes London's Heathrow as busiest in Europe amid COVID-19

Paris airport overtakes London's Heathrow as busiest in Europe amid COVID-19
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Paris Charles de Gaulle has taken over London’s Heathrow as the busiest airport in Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Heathrow released its third-quarter earnings results on Wednesday, in which it said that Charles de Gaulle had overtaken it for the first time due to the pandemic and lack of passenger testing. The company reported that passenger numbers were down over 84 percent, and reported £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) in losses in the first nine months of 2020.

“For the first time, Paris Charles de Gaulle has overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s largest airport, with Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt close behind,” Heathrow wrote the earnings results Wednesday. 

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Heathrow reported 19 million passengers for the first nine months of the year, less than the 19.3 million reported by the Paris airport, according to the Financial Times

The company wrote that it anticipates fewer passengers this year and next year due to the pandemic and the British government’s lack of progress on introducing a passenger testing system for those traveling from “high risk” countries. The government intends to introduce testing by Dec. 1. 

Passengers arriving at French airports from “high-risk” countries have to test negative within the past 72 hours or they are tested at the airport, according to the Financial Times. They must quarantine for two weeks if they test positive. 

“Britain is falling behind because we’ve been too slow to embrace passenger testing. European leaders acted quicker and now their economies are reaping the benefits,” Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said in a statement. “Bringing in pre-departure COVID tests and partnering with our US allies to open a pilot airbridge to America will kickstart our economic recovery and put the UK back ahead of our European rivals.”

Heathrow reported £951 million ($1.23 billion) in revenue between January and the end of September, a 58.7 percent drop in revenue from the same period last year.