An £8million lifeline could be on the way for Exeter Airport after the combination of the collapse of Flybe and the coronavirus pandemic had placed its future in doubt.
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
Passenger numbers are down 90 per cent year-on-year and without some financial support, the Airport could have faced the worst case scenario of closure.
East Devon councillors at the end of September had agreed to a further deferral of £180,000 of business rate relief and forward-funding the Airport’s share of the Long Lane enhancement scheme to the tune of nearly £750,000.
But now, regional airports, including Exeter Airport, will be able to apply for dedicated financial support, which will provide business rates relief and cover fixed costs up to £8million per airport.
The scheme will open for applications in January and follows calls by East Devon MP Simon Jupp to help secure financial support to protect the future of Exeter Airport.
Mr Jupp said: “I warmly welcome the decision by Government to provide business rates relief for regional airports.
“I raised my concerns with the Prime Minister and Chancellor after passenger numbers at Exeter Airport dropped by 95 per cent and they recognised the need to support our airport.
“Together with the new testing regime, the government is providing much needed support to help protect jobs and connectivity provided by Exeter Airport.”
The announcement comes as the Government unveils a new testing strategy to reduce the self-isolation period by at least a week.
From December 15, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the Government’s travel corridor list will have the option to pay for a test after five days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate.
A spokesman for Exeter Airport, said: “We are pleased the Government has listened to our calls and the campaign led by East Devon MP Simon Jupp to secure business rates relief for airports.
“The measures announced today will provide much-needed support and we will continue to lobby hard and work with Government on what other steps can be taken to safeguard the UK’s regional airports.”