Documents to download

Westminster Hall Debate has been scheduled for 7 July on the topic of the ‘Future of Regional Airports’, sponsored by Steve Double MP.

There are 42 regional passenger airports in the UK, excluding London airports and the airports on the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Impact of Covid-19 on airports

The pandemic has had a huge impact on regional airports. Comparing passenger movements in May 2021 with February 2020 before Covid-19 travel restrictions began, the overall number of air passenger transport movements regional airports dropped 85%. Air passenger movements from and to the EU declined the most (92%), followed by domestic flights (80%) and other international flights (76%). There was a small recovery in the summer of 2020 as restrictions eased, although this had fallen back during the winter.

Covid-19 financial support for the aviation sector

The Government has responded with financial support for the aviation sector. The Government says that by September 2021, the air transport sector alone will have benefited from around £7 billion of Government support, including:

  • Over £2 billion through the Bank of England’s Covid corporate financing facility
  • Around £1 billion to £1.5 billion of support through the furlough scheme.

Specifically for airports, the Government has offered:

  • Around £87 million through the Airport and Ground Operators Support Scheme
  • Business rates relief to airports, capped at £8million per airport

Future issues for regional airports

Other issues are also relevant to the future of regional airports. The government is currently conducting a Union Connectivity Review, which is examining ways of protecting ‘lifeline’ air routes to peripheral regions. The Government has also recently consulted on possible changes to Air Passenger Duty (APD). A reduction in APD would be welcomed by many regional airports seeking to stimulate post-pandemic growth. Many airports are also seeking expansion, but, as with a cut in APD, this has often been controversial. Cutting APD and/or increasing airport capacity is likely to increase the sector’s contribution to UK carbon emissions and make it harder to achieve the Government’s Net Zero ambitions.

The Government has indicated that its Strategic Framework for Aviation, and its Decarbonising Transport white paper are to be published in 2021. These strategy documents may address these and other issues as restrictions ease and the sector looks to recover.

Documents to download

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