Coronavirus: London Southend Airport to close for four days a week
London Southend airport will shut for more than half of the week from Monday due to the complete collapse in passenger demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
From next week, the airport will only be open between 16:30 and 21:30 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays due to severely reduced service.
Due to the onset of stringent travel restrictions and border closes, Southend’s partners Easyjet and Ryanair have suspended all flights from the airport until May at the earliest.
Wizz Air will continue to operate three weekly flights to Bucharest, and Loganair will run three flights to both Aberdeen and Derry a week.
In a statement, the airport said that it would continue to run a full logistics operation, thus protecting the jobs of its employees.
Shares in Stobart Group, which owns the airport, fell nearly 15 per cent today.
Yesterday London City Airport suspended all flights in and out of the airport for the foreseeable future.
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The airport has only been running a handful of daily flights, with numbers sharply decreasing due to the travel restrictions imposed in Europe and the US.
London City Airport chief executive Robert Sinclair said it was the “right and responsible course of action to protect the safety and wellbeing of our staff and passengers”.
He added: “The fundamentals of our business remain strong.
“The airport is backed by very committed, long-term investors and, once confidence returns to the market, the airport and our staff will be ready once again to quickly return to normal operations.”
The closures come after chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed earlier this week that the UK aviation sector would only be given state aid as a last resort.
The statement sparked fury from the Airport Operators Association (AOA), an aviation trade body, who said last week that some airports were “weeks away from closing”.
In a statement, AOA chief executive Karen Dee said: “While countries across Europe have recognised the vital role airports play and are stepping into the breach, the UK government’s decision to take a case-by-case approach with dozens of UK airports is simply not feasible to provide the support necessary in the coming days.
“Not only does the decision today leave airports struggling to provide critical services, it will hamper the UK recovery.”