Coronavirus: UK airports 'could close in weeks' as passenger numbers plummet

Air passenger numbers in Scotland have “plummeted” as airlines cancelled more flights amid warnings that some UK airports could close within weeks.
Jet2 is among airlines to have cancelled may flights at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PAJet2 is among airlines to have cancelled may flights at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
Jet2 is among airlines to have cancelled may flights at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

A further decline in demand is likely after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs today the Foreign Office was advising against all non-essential foreign travel for an initial period of 30 days.

He said: "UK travellers abroad now face widespread international border restrictions and lockdowns in various countries.

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"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will always consider the safety and the security of British nationals, so with immediate effect I've taken the decision to advise British nationals against non-essential travel globally for an initial period of 30 days and of course subject to ongoing review."

100 jobs are at risk at Edinburgh Airport because of the reduction in passengers. Picture: Lisa Ferguson100 jobs are at risk at Edinburgh Airport because of the reduction in passengers. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
100 jobs are at risk at Edinburgh Airport because of the reduction in passengers. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Loganair is expected to announce further reductions today after grounding its Scandinavian routes and flights from Edinburgh to Norwich and Glasgow to Exeter until the end of May.

American Airlines was today the latest US airline to confirm the suspension of transatlantic flight from Scotland, cancelling the first week of its summer Edinburgh-Philadelphia services from 28 March.

Virgin Atlantic today closed booking on its Glasgow-Orlando flights.

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The cuts follow Easyjet - Scotland’s biggest airline - cancelling flights to Italy and Spain - along with other carriers including Ryanair and Jet2.

Ryanair today apologised to passengers already checked-in for return flights from Spain who had experienced difficulties in changing their booking.

The airline said "We are unchecking all customers booked on flights exiting Spain from 21 Mar to 28 Mar and advising them to apply for a free move on an alternative date."

British Airways has reduced flights from Scotland and London, and other airlines have cut flights to other European countries such as Belgium and Germany.

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The UK Airport Operators Association said without UK Government support, some airports could soon shut down.

Chief executive Karen Dee said: “Governments across the world are supporting their national aviation industries, as many parts of the global travel industry have come to a halt.

“As some airlines call on the UK Government to act similarly, we are clear that airports will shut down in weeks unless urgent action is taken to support the industry.

“It is essential airport businesses remain operating and are able to weather this storm, so they can provide the connectivity which drives growth, employment and prosperity after the crisis has abated.”

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Edinburgh Airport has already announced 100 jobs are “at risk” among its 750 staff, with decisions likely to be taken at the end of May.

AGS Airports, which runs Glasgow and Aberdeen said it would “monitor the situation and respond accordingly”.

Health advice

The airports said Scottish Government advice was that temperature checks were not required as they were not an effective way of identifying cases.

However, health advice was read out on aircraft arriving from abroad, and leaflets were handed to passengers.

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Officials said hand sanitisers were being installed throughout the airports.

Glasgow Airport has closed its Upper Deck Lounge and long-stay car park, and was "enhancing our already thorough cleaning procedures with a specific focus on the regular cleaning of hard surfaces".

Edinburgh Airport said it had "enhanced our cleaning procedures which were already thorough and robust".