Doncaster Sheffield Airport boss joins plea for support to save 'tens of thousands of jobs'

Six northern airport bosses - including at Doncaster Sheffield - have joined forces to call on Government to back the sector, saying tens of thousands of jobs are on the line.

Friday, 26th February 2021, 4:45 pm

They are urging Boris Johnson to recognise the importance of aviation in Wednesday’s Budget and provide cash to protect the industry until it can fully open.

They say the UK’s recovery will be held back without it.

The letter has been signed by Manchester Airport, Carlisle Lake District Airport, Leeds Bradford Airport, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Doncaster Sheffield Airport and Newcastle International Airport.

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Chris Harcombe, managing director of Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

In 2019, they handled nearly 50m passengers, supported more than 200,000 jobs and generated £14bn for the economy.

But with passenger levels at just five per cent of normal, and with tens of thousands travel jobs already lost across the North, they say Government needs to set out how it will support the sector in the months until travellers return.

They are asking for relief from fixed costs paid to government, an extension to furlough and reduced passenger levies to encourage people to fly again.

Karen Smart, managing director of Manchester Airport, said: “It is nearly one year since Covid-19 ground international travel to a halt. It is clear the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on our sector, with tens of thousands of jobs lost already.

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“While this week’s roadmap plan from the Prime Minister includes a welcome target for the reopening of our industry, there is still much uncertainty over what this will mean in practice and it could still be many months before our airports begin welcoming passengers back through their doors.

“With airports across the North still facing uncertainty and difficult decisions, it is absolutely critical the Chancellor recognises the unique impact the pandemic continues to have on aviation when setting out his budget next week.”

Until the government’s Global Travel Taskforce publishes its review on April 12, there remains uncertainty over whether a May 17 restart date is possible, or the conditions under which flying can resume in earnest, she added.

"The recent surge in bookings reported by airlines proves the demand is there, but the Government needs to help realise that potential without delay, by working with industry to build on the measures already developed to keep passengers safe, without further undermining consumer confidence.”

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.