Familiar UK airports face huge losses

AIRPORTS which are key for travellers to and from Guernsey have been left struggling in the pandemic.

Aurigny's Embraer 195 at the gate at Gatwick Airport in June 2019. (29314704)
Aurigny's Embraer 195 at the gate at Gatwick Airport in June 2019. (29314704)

The Civil Contingencies Authority is due to discuss the future of Guernsey’s borders within the next two weeks.

The airport and harbour have been left almost empty for a year, suffering estimated losses of around £12m. last year due to arrivals needing to self-isolate.

Now airports to which islanders usually fly have been revealing their own difficulties.

Gatwick announced recently that it had lost £465.5m. during 2020. Passenger numbers had fallen by 78%.

It cut its running costs by more than £140m., which included a 40% reduction in the workforce.

Passenger numbers are expected to be in the few hundreds up until mid-May and losses are predicted to be £1m. per day until then.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that 17 May will be the earliest possible date from which UK residents can go on foreign holidays.

As Gatwick Airport unveiled the massive losses, chief executive Stuart Wingate said that a digital Covid certificate to replace testing and quarantine would be the key to a recovery in aviation.

Despite the challenges, Mr Wingate was optimistic that Gatwick would recover and retain its position as one of Europe’s most important international gateways and an economic driver for the UK’s south-east region.

Critical lifeline services to the Channel Islands have been credited for keeping Southampton Airport open during the pandemic.

It is closed on weekends, but some flights operate on weekdays.

A longer runway is seen as vital for safeguarding the future of the business.

Earlier this year Southampton Airport launched a public consultation over plans to extend its runway by 164 metres.

Airport executives said previously that the livelihood of the airport depends on the extension, which would allow airlines to use larger aircraft to transport more passengers on business and leisure routes.

At the end of last year, the Manchester Airport Group, which operates Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports, announced a £208m. half-year plunge into the red because of the pandemic.

The airport operator described its response to the pandemic as ‘measured, strong and focused on long-term recovery’.

All non-essential expenditure was frozen, staff took a 10% pay cut from April and the management team was cut, resulting in 25% fewer leaders and back office roles.

Shareholders managed to provide £300m. of new equity, together with £340m. raised through the sale of a non-core property portfolio.France is regarded as one of the most vaccine-sceptical countries in the world, so the seasonal Aurigny route to Grenoble may be one of the last to reopen without restrictions.

France and Germany are lagging behind Britain in the vaccine roll-out, and have struggled to administer available doses.

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