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Airports warns of closure without government help

London Gatwick Airport (Image: TransportMedia UK)

London Gatwick Airport (Image: TransportMedia UK)

The Airport Operators Association (AOA), which represents UK airports, has warned that airports may have to close without government assistance following the removal of safe travel corridors.

Some of airports in the UK have seen an almost complete drop in traffic as a result of the Coronvirus pandemic and even the larger airports are only seeing between 10 and 20% of their normal traffic flow.

This means many airports are “running on empty” and without a help package from the government some may have close temporarily to save costs.

The AOA said that: “there is only so long they [airports] can run on fumes before having to close temporarily to preserve their business for the future. Government needs to help cover airports’ operational costs by, for example, urgently providing relief from regulatory, policing, air traffic and business rates costs in the current and the coming tax year.”

As from 04:00 on Monday, all passengers arriving into the UK must quarantine for 10-days although this can be shortened to 5 if they obtain a negative test from a government-approved tester after arrival. In addition, they also need to produce a negative COVID result form 72 hours prior to arrival.

Norwegian LN-LNC on Approach to Cardiff Airport (Image: TransportMedia UK)

The UK’s lockdown restrictions also make non-essential travel illegal so there are no holiday flights for the foreseeable future with all the major holiday companies such as TUI and Jet2 having cancelled their tours until the restrictions are lifted.

The AOA says that it understands the need for the travel restrictions but said:“this adds to the current near-complete shutdown of the UK’s airports, which are vital for our post-pandemic prosperity. This is making a devastating situation for UK airports and communities relying on the jobs and economic benefits that aviation brings, worse.”

Airlines and Airports have so far not seen the same kind of support that other industries have such as the retail or hospitality sectors and this has resulted in tens of thousands of job losses on the UK alone.

This is not just exclusive to the UK either. Only this week we have seen Norwegian Long Haul close its operation at London Gatwick resulting in the loss of 1,100 jobs largely due to lack of government support, albeit the Norwegian Government in this case but still affecting the UK.

The AOA has now called on the UK government to “set out as a matter of extreme urgency how they will support airports through this deepening crisis. Business rate support, announced last year and in England not yet even open to applications, is no longer sufficient to ensure airports can weather the difficult months ahead.”

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