East Midlands Airport is being offered a grant of up to £8 million to help protect jobs during the pandemic.
English airports have been left crippled by the drop in passenger numbers during the coronavirus crisis and are now being offered the grants to help cover the costs.
Commercial airports and ground handling companies will be able to apply for the government support while travel restrictions remain in place that means people are not travelling abroad.
The cash will cover losses from fixed costs such as airfield operations, airfield and runway maintenance, and business rate bills.
It follows the latest introduction of international travel restrictions designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Last week aviation industry leaders warned of the ‘catastrophic’ impact of requiring travellers to the UK to quarantine in hotels, reports Business Live.
A Heathrow Airport spokesman warned ‘a blanket hotel quarantine’ would mean the effective closure of the UK’s borders and carried ‘huge ramifications’ for the country and the aviation sector.
The Government said airports and ground handlers will be able to apply to the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme online and, if successful, should receive their funding by the end of the financial year. Applications opened on Friday and run until February 21.
The support is on top of the existing furlough scheme.
The government has also removed the requirement for airlines to operate flights at least 80 per cent of the time to retain their airport slots, to reflect the current low demand for air travel.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “A thriving aviation industry has been central to the success of this country and while we recognise the testing conditions airports are currently facing as a result of the pandemic, I believe that the sector will be ready to bounce back once restrictions are lifted.
“Today’s scheme is another step in the right direction, providing vital support for an industry that is raring to get back to business, once it is safe to do so.”
East Midlands Airport, in Castle Donington, in North West Leicestershire, is among the national airports which have taken a big hit covid, cutting dozens of jobs following a 90 per cent drop in passenger numbers.
However, the airport, which is home to dedicated express freight operators such as DHL, UPS and FedEx, has been helped by a big rise in the number of cargo planes using it.
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North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said the scheme reflected the aviation sector’s valuable contribution to the UK economy.
The Tory MP said: “I am thrilled that East Midlands Airport in my constituency will receive up to £8 million to help it protect jobs during these challenging times.
“This funding offers vital support for the airport – which supports so many jobs and businesses in our community.
“This Conservative Government has provided unprecedented levels of support to protect jobs and businesses through the pandemic, and this latest support will be hugely important for helping North West Leicestershire to build back better after coronavirus.”