Tuesday 17 March 2020 1:02 pm

Airports could close without government action

Airports in the UK could be forced to close if the government does not take urgent action.

This warning by the Airport Operators Association (AOA) comes as travel across the world is disrupted due to coronavirus.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has advised against “all but essential travel outside the UK for 30 days” in a statement to MPs.

Read more: Business on the brink: Airlines, hospitality and train operators in line for state support

“It is essential that airport businesses remain operating and are able to weather this storm, so that they can provide the connectivity which drives growth, employment and prosperity after the crisis has abated,” said Karen Dee, head of the AOA.

The AOA demanded measures such as waiving taxes and organising emergency financing as a last resort.

“For the sake of the UK economy it is essential for the UK Government to catch-up to its peers across the continent and provide support to the sector and the wider economy through financing, guarantees, grants and tax relief,” Dee added.

Sign up to City A.M.’s Midday Update newsletter, delivered to your inbox every lunchtime

Major airlines have cancelled flights and operated services at reduced capacity.

International disruption

London City airport has had 72 combined departures and arrivals today, last years daily average was 221 per day.

Troubled regional airline Flybe collapsed earlier this month after a dramatic fall in bookings due to the pandemic.

This was despite the government deferring taxes in January when the airline first hit financial difficulty.

Read more: Flybe’s last flight: How Europe’s biggest regional airline met its demise

Once the crisis is over, Dee called for the government to reform air passenger duty to ensure airports can drive growth in the UK economy.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will use the government’s daily press conference later to announce further support measures for business.