Covid Summer: UK air travel rates were lowest since 70s

Heathrow Airport (Image: Graceful)
Heathrow Airport (Image: Graceful)

Data from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority showed that UK airports saw a combined 14.2 million passengers in Summer 2020, the lowest number since 1975.

Between July & September, traditionally the busiest month for summer holidays, the drop was 75% on the previous year with some smaller airports reporting no passengers at all.

The drop came as a result of travel restrictions in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic and a rising wave of Covid-19 across popular European holiday destinations.

UK Airlines have also been hit by the numbers with many airlines operating a small; percentage of their normal flight network.

Jet2 Holidays Boeing 737 (Image: TransportMedia UK)
Jet2 Holidays Boeing 737 (Image: TransportMedia UK)

British Airways owner IAG, reported that it operated just 33.5% of what it was operating pre-pandemic.

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said: “A year ago, the Chancellor stood up and noted some sectors faced ‘acute challenges’. He promised to work with the Transport Secretary on a ‘support package specifically for airlines and airports’. One year on, he has been proven right about the challenges but has failed to deliver sufficient support.

“The Chancellor’s failure to deliver on his promise has resulted in UK airports facing huge losses and trailing behind international competitors, who did receive significant support from their governments. For example, German airports received €820m of airport-specific support only last month.

“Yet despite dealing with the biggest crisis in their history, most airports remain operational to support vital public services, such as Royal Mail, air ambulances, Coastguard and the National Police Air Service, as well as other critical services such as freight, including PPE and vaccines.

“The Global Travel Taskforce offers us a glimmer of hope for a safe and successful summer. To ensure there are viable airports to support the economy and government agendas like global Britain and levelling-up , it must deliver on PM’s promise of risk-based restart of aviation from 17 May, through an affordable testing regime and with quarantine only as a measure of last resort.”

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though with bookings for Summer 2021 increasing and restrictions set to be eased.

About Nick Harding 1410 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.