Luton Airport in 'fragile state' despite possibility of £8m grant from government

Bosses at Luton Airport say it remains in a "fragile state" despite a possible grant of up to £8m from central government.

Monday, 1st February 2021, 6:17 pm
Updated Monday, 1st February 2021, 6:18 pm
Luton Airport
Luton Airport

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced last week that London Luton Airport is able to apply for a government grant worth up to £8m, to cover some of the losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

'The Airport and Ground Operators Support Scheme' is open to airports across England and successful bids will receive funding by the end of the financial year.

South West Bedfordshire MP Andrew Selous said: “I am thrilled that London Luton Airport will receive up to £8 million to help it protect jobs during these challenging times.

"This funding offers vital support for London Luton Airport – which supports so many jobs and businesses in our community.

"This 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 South West Bedfordshire to build back better after coronavirus.”

International travel restrictions were announced last Wednesday in order to protect public health, which are likely to lead to further losses for Luton Airport. In addition, airport bosses say the proposed grant funding may only cover its business rates this year.

The money has been described as "too little, too late" by Luton North MP Sarah Owen.

Ms Owen said: “I’ll welcome any support for our airport. However, 11 months into the pandemic, and a year on from the first set of travel restrictions, this is clearly too little, too late. This figure is a drop in the ocean when you consider the number of jobs lost in our town due to the Conservative government’s inaction.

“From day one, Labour colleagues and I have been calling for a sector specific deal for our aviation so that as many jobs as possible can be saved as possible. This is what governments in Germany, Spain and France have done.

“It’s time the government stopped bouncing from u-turn to u-turn, planned for the future to give people certainty and got on with keeping their promise to “do whatever it takes” to get us through the pandemic. I’ll work with whoever it takes to save as many jobs as possible in our town.”

A London Luton Airport spokesman said: “While we welcome the recent support from government, further travel restrictions being imposed this year mean the airport remains in a fragile state.

"Subject to eligibility, this fund will only cover the cost of business rates for the current financial year - approximately £5m.

"This is just a small percentage of our annual fixed costs. We are therefore urging the government to extend the scope and duration of the fund, as well as extending the Job Support Scheme beyond April, to help protect the thousands of local jobs and businesses that rely on the airport.”