At Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport you come out into the arrivals hall not through an opaque set of automatic doors but down an escalator. You can see the people waiting expectantly below, watching as you descend. When I returned to Tehran last month, however, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airport was empty. I tried to imagine the hall crowded, as it should be. Of the few people I saw, most were wearing facemasks. My suitcase had been wet when I took it off the carousel. ‘Is it raining?’ another passenger asked. Then we saw a man in a red and yellow uniform spraying the luggage with disinfectant. My journey from Toronto had lasted forty long hours, through deserted airports in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Before that I had spent fifty days alone in a deserted city where I knew no one; the only person I had known in Toronto was killed in January.
Ian Gilmour on the horrors of Heathrow, the last time they were proposing to expand the airport (LRB, 19 March 1998): Heathrow is the worst-sited major airport in the world. Probably no other country would be crazy enough to place its principal airport at a spot which, when the prevailing wind is blowing, requires all aircraft coming in to land to fly first over its capital, one of the world’s most heavily populated cities. And I am pretty sure that if any other country had committed such a blunder, it would not magnify it by building another airport next door to the original mistake.