Airports set to lose £4 billion in 2020 as a result of COVID-19

Wednesday 22 July 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has brought international aviation to a near-standstill, in the worst drop-off in traffic levels the industry has ever witnessed. Today, the Airport Operators Association (AOA) has released an analysis of its member airports that shows that they are set to lose at least £4 billion in revenue by the end of 2020

The analysis also shows that in the first four months of the pandemic – during which passenger numbers fell by up to 99% – UK airports lost just under £2billion, the equivalent of over £15m each day.  These figures cover the airports only and there will undoubtedly be a multiplier effect on the businesses and wider community around UK airport sites. Such losses undermines the ability of airport business to power the future prosperity of their local economies, forgoing crucial investment projects and, unfortunately, causing job losses.

In order to help protect jobs and support the sector through this unprecedented crisis, the AOA and the CEOs of the UK’s airports have written to the Prime Minister to ask that the Government take the following action:

  • Relief from Business Rates payments for 2020-2021 in line with the relief granted to the hospitality and retail sectors, aiding companies’ cashflow
  • Guarantee to support, in some form, UK airports with their employment costs beyond the October end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
  • Fund the aviation sector’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, for the 2020/2021 charging period.
  • Suspend Air Passenger Duty (APD) for at least six months to stimulate increased airline activity.


Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee said:

“These projections reinforce the significant challenges that UK airports continue to face after the worst four months in the history of commercial aviation. Whilst we have seen passengers begin to return, passenger numbers are not expected to reach pre-Covid levels for a considerable period and airports will continue to face challenges and pressures unimaginable six months ago. 

“Airports have done everything in their power to weather the storm and have done so without the specific Government support afforded to other sectors. That our airports lost close to £2bn during the lockdown should serve as a wakeup call to Government and lead them to finally grasp the severity of the challenge and threat that the pandemic has posed and continues to pose to the sector. 

“We cannot have a full national economic recovery without a thriving aviation sector; airports are essential components of Britain’s ambition to be a global trading nation and form a vital network for economic stimulus across the UK, levelling up the regions. These figures show that it is high time that the Government acts with urgency and supports airports through the biggest challenge that they have ever faced.”