A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “Red list routes will likely be a feature of UK travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates.
“We’re adapting Heathrow to this longer-term reality by initially opening a dedicated arrivals facility.”
She told the BBC that while opening the facility would be “logistically very challenging”, Heathrow hoped that doing so would enable Border Force to carry out its duties more efficiently, as passenger volumes increase in line with countries on the government’s green list.
The new measure was introduced as Heathrow warned that the UK is set to miss out on billions of pounds of passenger spend if the green list is not extended as part of the travel review on June 7.
New research from economic forecasting group CEBR found that passengers arriving at Heathrow alone spend more than £16 billion across the country.
US visitors travelling through Heathrow are the largest source of inbound tourism revenue for the entire economy, accounting for £3.74 billion, nearly a quarter (23%) of total spend while visiting the UK.
The US was the top market for passenger traffic prior to the pandemic, with Heathrow–New York JFK one of the world’s most lucrative routes.
More than 21 million passengers travelled from the airport to the US in 2019.
The study also indicated that expenditure by passengers using Heathrow is set to grow to £18.1 billion a year by the middle of the decade, if international air travel resumes this summer.
But if conditions prevent that and visitor numbers grow more slowly, expenditure could fall by more than 18% to £13.6 billion by 2025.