The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has warned the second national lockdown could put some 65,000 jobs in and around Manchester Airport at risk.
Mr Burham has called for urgent government support to help support the aviation industry, the Manchester Evening News has reported, to prevent communities which rely on airport jobs from suffering.
It comes as all overseas travel has been banned until December as part of the lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Already Manchester Airports Group, which owns a string of UK airports, is looking to axe 892 jobs across the country, including 456 at Manchester Airport.
But the picture is bleaker still when associated aviation companies are considered.
Some 1,561 other jobs are thought to be at risk at airport contractors such as ground handling agents.
But Mayor Burnham fears even more jobs associated with the airport’s £1bn super-terminal – due to be completed in 2023 – are also in jeopardy.
The ambitious expansion was trumpeted by Boris Johnson in July 2019 when he visited the site as part of his bid to become leader of the Conservative party.
“But what a difference a year makes. If the Prime Minister was to make the same trip north today, he would find an echoing, empty shell with 25,000 jobs on the site on the line and a further 45,000 at risk in associated industries,” said Mayor Burnham.
“I know the Government has faced an unprecedented challenge in supporting the economy through this most challenging of years and I have some sympathy with them. To be fair to the PM and Chancellor, their interventions have provided a lifeline to many people and businesses.
“But they have also left some glaring gaps in support and one of the biggest is airports and aviation.”
Writing for the Sunday Telegraph he urged the government finalise a coronavirus testing regime to help the aviation industry fly again when the second lockdown comes to an end as well as providing financial support to the sector.
The mayor wrote: “The Prime Minister needs to be reminded of his trip north in July 2019 and of how critical our airports were to his vision of a rebalanced, post-Brexit UK. He needs to know that continued inaction on this crucial issue risks leaving Britain stranded on the periphery of international travel and trade just as we enter the brave, new world.
“I have had my disagreements with the Government recently on their treatment of the north and could easily add the neglect of Manchester Airport to my charge sheet.
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“But I don’t want to be at constant loggerheads with them. I remain ready to work with the Government to deliver on their ambitions for the North of England and nobody would be more pleased than me if their “levelling-up” agenda really began to take off.
“But, if things carry on like this, it will be as grounded as all of those planes sitting on the Manchester Airport tarmac.”