Business rates relief for airports brings less than fortnight of respite

Figures calculated by the Airport Operators Association show that UK airports saw losses of £163.8m in January 2021, prior to the most recent travel restrictions coming into force. That means airports lost £5.3m a day.

In January, the UK Government published the details of how commercial airports in England can apply for the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS), which gives relief in lieu of business rates, capped at £8m. The AOA estimates this will see these airports receive £61m in total from AGOSS.

With losses of airports in England totalling £141.5m in January, or £4.6m a day, the support through AGOSS will last English airports around 13 days.

Commenting, Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said:

“The near-total shutdown of aviation as a result of Government travel restrictions continues to have a devastating impact on UK airports. In January alone, the AOA calculates that UK airports lost £5.3m a day. That is before the latest travel restrictions came into force, which will undoubtedly make the current predicament worse.

“While public health must come first, airports are having to bear the collapse in their revenue without any significant support. The Government’s business rates relief for airports in England is welcome, but it is expected to bring less than a fortnight of respite for English airports, which lost £141.5m in January.

“These levels of losses are unsustainable for any business. The UK and devolved governments should urgently support airports by providing sufficient funds for them to remain open for freight and other critical services, such as Royal Mail, police, air ambulances, coastguard and offshore oil, gas and wind operations.

“Moreover, as airports must avoid a lost summer, the UK and devolved governments should set out a four-nation pathway out of the current restrictions based on clear, risk-based criteria to enable the safe restart of international travel and give airports and passengers confidence there is a future for them.”