“The entire aviation industry is beginning a long journey of recovery. At Cardiff Airport we have now seen six full weeks of commercial passenger flying since the full UK lockdown ended. The volume of commercial passenger flights has decreased by approximately -80% from an average of 40 daily services to eight. However, over this six week period, the number of passengers using these flights are down -97% compared to the same six week period last year.
“This significant drop in passenger travel is the same for many UK regional airports, as airlines and customers face the challenge of frequently changing UK Government travel advice. The FCO travel guidance advising against ‘all but essential’ travel to the largest tourism markets in Europe, plus subsequent quarantine measures, will continue to slow the aviation industry recovery. Along with Spain and Portugal, we now see the likes of France, Belgium, Malta and The Netherlands recently added to the list, which is having a significant impact on our airlines as, understandably, customers are much less inclined to travel.
“Cardiff Airport is an important part of the transport infrastructure in Wales and a major contributor to the Welsh Economy, typically supporting 2,400 aviation-related jobs. As the national airport for Wales, our economic impact has been tracking at over £246m of direct economic benefit to the region every year with over 30% of passengers being visitors to the country.
“To enable the growth in travel and our economic impact potential to be stimulated again, it is imperative that the UK Government creates the right market conditions for airlines to operate. We need swift clarity on testing initiatives in a similar way to what is happening in other major countries in Europe, which will give the consumers confidence to fly again. Furthermore, it is urgent and critical that the UK Government provides substantial incentives to support the aviation sector, in order to help kick start business, or risk more airlines going out of business and airports starting to close down as a result. There are going to be many suggestions for support over the coming months, but the quickest solution for UK Government to implement would be to immediately suspend Air Passenger Duty for a couple of years.
“With regards to Cardiff Airport’s response to this unprecedented effect on business, we have been taking a number of steps to manage our cashflow, including: maintaining tight cost control; pausing all capital expenditure projects and making use of the UK Government Job Retention Scheme. Our biggest challenge is managing the constant financial demands of operating within a highly-regulated industry, and with fewer passengers travelling through the Airport this massively impinges our viability as a business. Over the coming months my priority as CEO is to navigate our team through this challenging time, maximise our efficiency and maintain tight control of cashflow.
“At the beginning of this global crisis we were able to draw down part of our commercial loan from Welsh Government sooner than planned, which helped with our ability to trade over the Summer season. As the industry faces more and more uncertainty, and as we approach the Winter season, we will remain focused on the long term sustainability of the Airport business.
“Cardiff Airport now strongly urges the UK Government to properly recognise the value and importance that the Aviation and Aerospace sectors contribute to our overall economy, and that it now steps up to provide the assistance we urgently need.”