Coronavirus: Airport chief slams lack of government support

Saleha Riaz
·2 min read
Manchester Airports Group owns and operates three UK airports — London Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA via AP
Manchester Airports Group owns and operates three UK airports — London Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA via AP

The CEO of one the UK’s top airport groups expressed disappointment that the prime minister failed to adequately mention how the new lockdown would impact air travel in his speech on Saturday and slammed the government for neglecting the industry.

Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group, which owns and operates three UK airports — London Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands — said: “Given the huge impact on the hundreds of thousands of people working in the aviation and travel industry, it is shocking that the prime minister didn’t consider the shutdown of international travel worthy of mention in his press conference on Saturday evening.”

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“The government’s decision to ban people from travelling abroad came without warning and with no discussion with the industry about the support it will receive to help it get through this period,” he added.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson said last week that non-essential shops and hospitality will have to close, and travel will be under new restrictions, from Thursday and until 2 December.

Cornish said tens of thousands of jobs have already been lost across the industry, which could have been avoided had the government followed through on its promise of a targeted support package.

He urged for an aid package that includes relief from “business rates, policing costs and other pressures we have no way of mitigating.”

The air travel industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Ryanair (RYA.L) has posted its first losses over the summer in decades, as passenger numbers plummeted amid the pandemic.

Just last week it was reported the owner of British Airways, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L), nosedived to a €6.2bn (£5.6bn, $7.2bn) pre-tax loss for the first nine months of the year, compared with a profit of €2.3bn a year ago.

And Air France-KLM (AF.PA) reported a €1.05bn quarterly operating loss and warned of worse to come as amid tougher COVID-19 travel restrictions.