Liverpool Airport could claim £8m COVID lifeline

Government is inviting applications for COVID-19 financial support from airports across England with the aviation sector hit badly by the pandemic. Tony McDonough reports 

Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Liverpool John Lennon Airport terminal building. Picture by Active Digital


Liverpool John Lennon Airport could be in line for up to £8m of COVID-19 support from the Government.

Since March 2020 the COVID pandemic has had a devastating impact on the aviation sector across the world. Last year there were 2.9 trillion passenger kilometres recorded across the world – a 67% drop from 2019. It ended 21 years of consecutive growth.

Liverpool’s two biggest carriers, easyJet and Ryanair, as well as Wizz Air, slashed the number of flights as they grappled with social distancing restrictions and lockdowns across multiple countries.

This has mean a big drop in income for airports such as as Liverpool. Now the Government is inviting applications from airports and ground handlers across England to apply for grants of up to £8m to meet fixed costs while restrictions remain in place.

READ MORE: There is pent-up demand for air travel, claims easyJet

The financial relief will help airports and ground handlers to cover losses on costs including airfield operations, contracted services such as airfield and runway maintenance, and business rate bills.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “A thriving aviation industry has been central to the success of this country and while we recognise the testing conditions airports are currently facing as a result of the pandemic, I believe that the sector will be ready to bounce back once restrictions are lifted.

“Today’s scheme is another step in the right direction, providing vital support for an industry that is raring to get back to business, once it is safe to do so.”

Airports and ground handlers can apply to the scheme from Friday, January 29, and if successful, should receive their funding by the end of the financial year. The financial support scheme, which follows the Government’s extension of the Job Retention Scheme, is open until the February 21, 2021.

The Government has also provided flexibility to airlines to support them during this difficult time – extending the waiver of the ’80:20’ slot usage rule in time for the summer scheduling season. This removes the requirement for airlines to operate flights at least 80% of the time to retain their slots, to reflect the current low demand for air travel.

This not only helps airlines’ finances but reduces the environmental impact of “ghost flights” while ensuring that the slots allocation system works in the interests of air passengers.

LBN has contacted Liverpool John Lennon Airport for comment.

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