Action group urges MPs to reject airport’s call for subsidies due to appeal cost

Bristol airport boss Dave Lees is calling for compulsory testing for Covid-19

Bristol airport boss Dave Lees is calling for compulsory testing for Covid-19 - Credit: Archant

Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) is urging MPs in the region to reject the airport’s call for additional subsidies and compulsory testing for Covid-19.

The action group want MPs to prevent airports receiving further public subsidy, while they continue to promote expansion plans; and also dismiss airport owners’ call for compulsory Covid testing at airports – until the UK has sufficient testing capacity to satisfy all existing demands.

The call follows chief executive of Bristol Airport, Dave Lees’, move in joining other airport bosses – warning of ‘catastrophic job losses’ if their demands for financial support specific to the sector are refused.

Airport bosses are also calling on the Government to implement compulsory testing for Covid-19 at airports to ‘give customers confidence’ to continue flying while restrictions remain in force. Member of BAAN, Cllr Steve Clarke, said: “The testing and tracing system is still struggling to cope with the volume of demand. Many people are still waiting for a test. The laboratories are struggling to get the results out on time.

“Now Bristol Airport wants to add a load more testing, to encourage more people to fly abroad.

“Some of those extra tourists will come back with Covid. What they want is like a subsidy to petrol stations in the middle of a forest fire.

“We hope that all our MPs will reject these outrageous demands.”

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Earlier this month, Bristol Airport submitted an appeal against North Somerset Council’s refusal of its application to expand its facilities to accommodate 12 million passengers a year.

The appeal is expected to cost North Somerset taxpayers thousands of pounds; and if approved, expansion plans are estimated to cost several million pounds.

Fellow BAAN member, Dr Steve Melia, said: “Bristol Airport is calling for subsidies – over and above the subsidies offered to all businesses.

“They are threatening catastrophic job losses if they don’t get what they want.

“At the same time, they’re planning to spend millions on expansion plans – and to sting the local taxpayer while they’re at it.

“No Government, no public authority should give in to this sort of blackmail.”