Heathrow’s expansion plans – which include a third runway – will be delayed by at least two years because of the effect coronavirus is having on the aviation sector, the airport says.

In a market update released on Friday, the airport also acknowledged that continuing legal challenges could delay the project.

“It’s the last thing on my mind at the moment,” Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told Sky News when asked about the expansion plans.

The airport said it expects passenger numbers will have been down by 97% in April because of travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.

Holland-Kaye said it was likely that there would be new health checks at airports when flights resume.

We will (probably) see some kind of health screening as you go into the terminal – maybe a thermal scanner. We’ll see probably passengers wearing surgical masks,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ll see social distancing in that phase within an airport. The reason for that is that it’s impossible to socially distance in any form of public transport,” he added.