Tuesday 17 March 2020 3:17 pm

London City Airport backs calls for government support

London City Airport is scheduled to have just over 20 per cent of its usual flight capacity today as the airport looks for government assistance during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Royal Docks airport, which caters mostly to business travellers, is due to have a combined 51 departures and arrivals today.

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This is just 23 per cent of the airport’s daily average capacity in 2019, which was approximately 220 movements a day.

A movement is classified as either an arrival or departure.

The sharp reduction in flights is underpinned by its reliance on British Airways, which has slashed its capacity by 75 per cent for the time being.

City Airport’s numbers will plummet further still after foreign secretary Dominic Raab today advised against “all but essential travel” today.

The EU banned also non-essential travel within the Schengen zone from noon today.

A spokesperson for London City Airport said: “There are far fewer passengers and obviously a significant reduction in flights,” he said.

“Very few businesses are able to get through a shock where 80 per cent of their customers disappear overnight.

“We support calls for government to help get the industry through this and so when things improve and people start to travel then there will be options available.”

It comes as the UK’s airports trade body, the Airport Operators Association (AOA), warned that some of its members may “shut down in weeks” without government intervention.

In a letter to the government, AOA’s chief executive Karen Dee asked for extensive relief for airports including deferral of tax payments and a cash injection into the sector.

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“The UK’s airports are critical national infrastructure, fulfilling a vital public service, and are on the frontline of the COVID-19 outbreak,” she said.

“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.”