Future of Newcastle International Airport 'not in question,' say leaders as crisis bites

North East bosses have insisted the long term future of Newcastle International Airport is ‘not in question’.

Saturday, 27th June 2020, 12:58 pm
Newcastle International Airport

But they have also admitted the transport hub faces financial challenges in the short term and have not ruled out the possibility of a cash injection to help it through.

The impact of COVID-19 has seen the aviation industry suffer nationally and internationally as travellers plummeted in the wake of the virus.

“Passenger numbers dropped in the immediate period, but valuation is based on the long term position,” said Jon Ritchie, executive director of Corporate Services at Sunderland City Council, which is a shareholder in the airport along with other North East local authorities.

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“The draft accounts, which are subject to audit, does see a reduction in the value of the investment, but the long term going concern of the airport is not in question.

“The long term importance of the airport isn’t in question.

“The importance of the airport for trade, for tourism, for the North East, is not in question, but obviously it’s not a surprise to anyone that we’ve got an impact on their financial forecasts in the short term.”

Ritchie was speaking at a meeting of the city council’s Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee on June 25, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

He was responding to questions from Conservative opposition councillor Dominic McDonough, who said it was ‘not a great surprise’ the airport was facing a tough financial position.

He also asked whether the seven North East councils which own a combined 51 per cent stake in the airport could be asked to ‘pump in millions of pounds’ to keep it going through a downturn in business.

“At the moment, there’s been no request from the airport,” said Ritchie.

“If there was a request we would do the usual business case to see whether we would want to invest.

“It’s done on a case by case basis and we would have to look at it based on what the ask was.”

According to a report for city councillors, £1.253million has been set aside to cover interest payments owed to the council from the airport which may be delayed due to trading conditions.

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