The number of passengers travelling through U.K. airports fell by 223 million in 2020 because of travel restrictions, a decline of 75% from 2019. The Guardian has the story.
About 74 million people passed through U.K. airports in 2020, less than a quarter of the 297 million recorded in 2019, according to PA Media’s analysis of annual Civil Aviation Authority data.
The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said the figures demonstrated the devastating impact of the virus on aviation.
Cardiff airport suffered the largest drop in passenger numbers at 86.7%, followed by Glasgow Prestwick at 85.8% and Exeter at 85.5%.
The figure for Southampton fell by 83.4%, London City by 82.3% and Leeds Bradford by 81.2%.
Heathrow, the U.K.’s largest airport, recorded a 72.7% decline from 80.9 million passengers in 2019 to 22.1 million last year. The figures include all passengers who travelled through British airports excluding the Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
Demand for air travel collapsed in March 2020 when the U.K. went into its first national lockdown, mirroring lockdowns elsewhere and forcing airlines around the world to ground their planes.
Travel began to recover by late summer and into the autumn, but passenger numbers plummeted again in November after many restrictions were reimposed in the U.K. as it faced a second wave of the virus.
Karen Dee, the AOA’s Chief Executive, said: “These figures lay bare the devastating impact Covid has had on U.K. airports. With passengers down nearly 90% between April and December 2020, airports’ economic output was decimated and significant numbers of jobs were lost.”
She said the Government’s “overly cautious” approach to reopening travel meant this summer would be “as bad, if not worse, than 2020”. U.K. airports will lose at least another £2.6 billion in revenues this summer, following a similar loss between April and September 2020, the AOA estimates.
Dee said: “This leaves U.K. airports trailing behind international competitors in the E.U. and U.S., who not only received significantly more financial support from their governments but are also now able to restart travel over the summer.”
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