Britain’s airports have lost more than £150 million (over $190 million) a day during the first four months of the Covid-19 pandemic which has crippled air travel, according to the Airport Operators Association (AOA).
Data showed that revenue was down just under £2 billion ($2.5 billion) in total compared to the previous year, as passenger numbers plunged by as much as 99 percent. The losses are expected to reach at least £4 billion ($5.1 billion) in 2020.
“Such losses undermine the ability of airport business to power the future prosperity of their local economies, forgoing crucial investment projects and, unfortunately, causing job losses,” said the AOA.
According to the AOA’s chief executive Karen Dee, those were “the worst four months in the history of commercial aviation.” She said passenger numbers have begun to pick up, but airports would continue to face pressures “unimaginable six months ago.”
Since the United Kingdom introduced a 14-day quarantine period for international arrivals last month, airlines have been warning it would decimate domestic tourism and damage exports.
British Airways has already made heavy cuts to its operation at London’s Gatwick Airport and reportedly warned that it could pull out of Gatwick altogether. Another struggling airline, Virgin Atlantic, announced plans to leave the airport last month. Budget airline easyJet has warned of upcoming workforce furloughs. Airport baggage handler, Swissport, said last month that 4,500 jobs were at risk, with plane engine maker Rolls-Royce looking to cut 9,000 employees.
Airport companies have been also calling for more government support, including a suspension of air passenger duty, wage subsidies after the furlough scheme ends in October, and relief from business rates similar to hospitality and retail firms.
Moody’s warned last week that global air travel demand won’t recover to pre-Covid levels till at least 2023.
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