Exeter Airport receives funding boost to avoid 'worst case scenario' closure

The range of the measures will aid short term recovery and ensure infrastructure improvements can continue to be progressed. Credit: ITV News West Country

A package of funding worth close to £1million to help ensure Exeter Airport can avoid the "worst case scenario" of closure has been unanimously backed.

The combination of the collapse of Flybe, as well as the pandemic, means the airports future was under threat.A support package has now been agreed by East Devon District Council.

It includes:

£180,000

Worth of further deferral of business rate relief

£750,000

Forward-funding the Airport’s share of the Long Lane enhancement scheme

The £750,000 will also help endorse the concept of a sustainable aviation cluster centred on Exeter Airport.

The Long Lane Enhancement Scheme will widen the road that runs past Exeter Airport and down to Hampton by Hilton hotel, which will enable a new Airpark – one of the four planned ‘Enterprise Zones’ – to come forward.

The Long Lane scheme includes the construction of a T junction, rather than the initially proposed roundabout at car park 1 at the airport.

The carriageway between car park 1 and the Flybe Academy/Hampton by Hilton hotel will then be widened.

Once the Long Lane works are finished, the Silverdown Link will become a permanent bus and cycle only link.


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Project director Andrew Wood said that the airport had probably been the business most impacted of any in the district by covid-19.

94%

The amount passenger numbers were down during August.

He said: "The package of support is in place for the Airport to help counteract the impact of the lockdown, promote recovery and chart a course to a more sustainable future.

It is not possible to say categorically that the package of support outlined will stave off the threat facing the Airport, is not a cure, and won’t address in totality of issues they face, but it will help to cushion the impact of the pandemic and we hope it is more than a gesture.

Project director Andrew Wood

"The most obvious alternative option would be not to provide any form of public sector backed support.

"The Airport does though face an existential threat currently. In the worst case scenario the Airport would close.

"This would lead to further large scale job closures, reduce business rate revenues and also diminish the connectivity of the region."

When Flybe went into administration earlier this year, it led to 931 jobs being lost locally. Credit: ITV News

Mr Wood added: " As we emerge from lockdown commercial flights have now recommenced from the Airport. But this is nowhere near the scale that might otherwise have been expected with passenger numbers down by 94 per cent during August.

"While some former Flybe routes have been picked up by alternative operators such as Logan Air and Blue Island, other key routes including to Paris and Amsterdam are not currently being operated.

"The flying programme continues to be further impacted by the uncertainties around quarantine restrictions."

Exeter Airpot has seen a fall in the amount of passenger numbers travelling through it. Credit: ITV News