AOA calls for government support after travel corridor closure

The industry is in desperate need of monetary relief to stay afloat, says the industry association

All travel corridors between the United Kingdom and nations around the world were closed today (Jan 15) in a bid to stop the spread of new COVID-19 variants in the country.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) says that as a result of new travel restrictions, the UK Government needs to consider providing extra support for its members.

Heathrow Airport
Photo Heathrow Airport 

Karen Dee, Airport Operators Association (AOA) chief executive, commented: “The closure of travel corridors is understandable from a public health perspective but 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,” she added.

Last year, the government revealed its plans for a financial support package specifically designed to help English airports. Dee explains that this is no longer an adequate solution: “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.”

Airports are currently running essential operations, however, the AOA says this is not enough to keep the entire sector afloat.

“Airports are currently keeping their infrastructure open to support vital and critical services, such as post, freight, emergency services, military and Coastguard flights, as well as to help keep the lights in the UK on through supporting flights to offshore oil, gas and wind operations,” said Dee.

“Airports are doing so while running on empty – there is only so long they 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,” she concludes.

Founded in 1934, the AOA represents more than 50 UK airports and has more than 150 associate members made up of companies comprising a wide range of suppliers in the aviation industry.