UK government urged to rescue six major airports in northern England
They also called for the development of a manageable, realistic and cost-effective system that would enable travel to restart in May.
In the plea from Manchester Airport, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Carlisle Lake District Airport, Leeds Bradford Airport, Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, and Newcastle International Airport, bosses said tens of thousands of jobs were on the line without support.
In their message, they said Britain's recovery will be held back if connectivity in Northern England is not protected, with months to go before air passengers might return.
Leaders of the six air transport gateways urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recognise the importance of aviation and travel to his levelling-up and "Global Britain" ambitions, by providing the direct financial support to protect the industry until it is able to fully re-open.
The six airports handled nearly 50 million passengers in 2019. With passenger levels having plummeted to just five percent of usual volumes and with tens of thousands of travel sector jobs already lost across Northern England.
They said that the government needs to set out how it will offer support to the sector while travel remains prohibited in the wake of coronavirus.
Karen Smart, managing director of Manchester Airport which is the third biggest in Britain, said, "While this week's recovery plan from the prime minister includes a welcome target for the reopening of our industry, there is still much uncertainty over what this will mean in practice and it could still be many months before our airports begin welcoming passengers back through their doors."
"Failure to get this right risks further long-lasting damage to the communities our airports serve and the prospects of a full and balanced UK recovery," she added.
England is currently under the third national lockdown since outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. ■