Airport bosses say passengers arevpanicked by Omicron Covid variant
Airport bosses say passengers panicked by Omicron Covid variant are already cancelling or not showing up for flights in fresh ‘hammer blow’ to industry
- AGS Airports director Brian McClean said new restrictions were ‘hammer blow’
- He said that there was evidence of worried people not turning up for their flights
- Glasgow Airport expecting to have the lowest passenger numbers since 1973
Airport bosses said they are ‘hugely concerned’ amid reports of passengers cancelling flights or not showing up because of the Omicron covid variant.
AGS Airports, owners Aberdeen and Glasgow as well as Southampton, said it remained at a ‘standstill’, with Glasgow Airport’s traffic falling to its lowest for nearly 50 years.
Brian McClean, AGS Airports’ communications and sustainability director, told the House of Commons’ transport committee yesterday the new travel restrictions introduced because of Omicron were a ‘hammer blow’ to the industry.
He told MPs the company had taken on a ‘huge amount of debt’ and sacked hundreds of workers as a result of its financial woes.
Mr McClean said a huge redundancy programme last year was linked to the loss of around 3,000 jobs – both directly and indirectly.
AGS said later these included 200 direct job losses at the airports.
Brian McClean, AGS Airports’ communications director, described hammer blow restrictions
Mr McClean said Glasgow Airport – Scotland’s second busiest after Edinburgh – expected to handle only 1.9 million passengers this year – the lowest since 1973.
Mr McClean said: ‘We have been at a standstill for 20 months – it’s hugely concerning.
‘It’s another hammer blow to our recovery, to the passenger confidence that had slowly been returning.
‘We are now hearing anecdotal evidence of passengers cancelling flights and passengers not turning up for flights.
‘We were at a point where we believed we were starting to regrow and rebuild, but this is a real worry for everyone.
‘This has set us back decades.
‘We have not had any period of stability over the last 20 months.
Glasgow Airport – Scotland’s second busiest after Edinburgh – is expected to handle only 1.9 million passengers this year – the lowest since 1973
‘We haven’t been able to get going – it’s been stop-start.
‘It is quite difficult to tell how it is going to pan out.
‘As we come out of this, we are going to see fewer airlines with fewer aircraft, we are going to see greater consolidation.
‘But there’s going to be the same number of airports, so that means our recovery is going to be intensely competitive, and that’s our concern.
‘We are extremely worried about developments at the moment.’
Loganair chief commercial officer Kay Ryan told the committee the Glasgow-based airline’s corporate travel market had been ‘massively impacted’ by the pandemic, because of the work from home policy adopted by many organisations.
Ms Ryan said: ‘We are at 75-80 per cent of 2019 levels.
‘I can’t see that 20 per cent coming back any time soon, and that’s the concern.’
A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: ‘We understand the need for restrictions to allow time for scientists to find out more, but they must be proportionate and discussed in a way that is constructive and informative.
‘Unfortunately they are currently presented in a reactionary manner and that is proving damaging to the recovery of the industry.
‘Passenger confidence is key and the swift move to call for increased restrictions only serves to make a fragile situation even worse, with passengers already cancelling flights or simply not showing up.
‘This is not sustainable and does not provide solid foundations to plan a recovery from.
‘There must be more recognition of the fragility of travel, its importance to our economic recovery and the need to support it.’
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