UK airports are set to lose £4 billion in 2020

COVID-19 has brought international aviation to a near-standstill, in the worst drop-off in traffic levels the industry has ever witnessed.

COVID-19 affects UK airports revenues

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has released an analysis of its member airports that shows they are set to lose at least £4 billion in revenue by the end of 2020.

In the first four months of the pandemic – during which passenger numbers fell by up to 99 per cent – UK airports lost just under £2 billion; over £150 million each day. These figures cover the airports only, there will of course be an effect on the businesses and wider community around UK airport sites.

This furthermore effects the ability of airport business to power the future prosperity of local economies, forgoing crucial investment projects and causing job losses.

In order to help protect jobs and support the sector through this crisis, the AOA and the CEOs of the UK’s airports have written to the Prime Minister to ask the government to:

  • Provide relief from business rates payments for 2020-2021 in line with the relief granted to the hospitality and retail sectors
  • Guarantee to support, in some form, UK airports with their employment costs beyond the October end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • Fund the aviation sector’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, for the 2020/2021 charging period
  • Suspend Air Passenger Duty (APD) for at least six months to stimulate increased airline activity.

Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee, said: “These projections reinforce the significant challenges that UK airports continue to face after the worst four months in the history of commercial aviation. Whilst we have seen passengers begin to return, passenger numbers are not expected to reach pre-COVID-19 levels for a considerable period and airports will continue to face challenges and pressures unimaginable six months ago.  

“Airports have done everything in their power to weather the storm and have done so without the specific government support afforded to other sectors. That our airports lost close to £2 billion during the lockdown should serve as a wakeup call to the government and lead them to finally grasp the severity of the challenge and threat that the pandemic has posed, and continues to pose, to the sector.  

“We cannot have a full national economic recovery without a thriving aviation sector; airports are essential components of Britain’s ambition to be a global trading nation and form a vital network for economic stimulus across the UK, levelling up the regions. These figures show that it is high time that the government acts with urgency and support us through the biggest challenge that they have ever faced.”

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