Independent - Simon Calder

22 March 2024 

Many airports are only kept afloat through heavy subsidies

Some UK airports are highly successful, with Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted all bouncing back strongly after the Covid pandemic. The UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, handled a record number of passengers in February: an average of 200,000 per day.

Yet some smaller British airports do not even register 200,000 travellers in a year. Many rely on public subsidies to survive, for social and economic reasons. Highlands and Islands Airports, which looks after 11 airports in Scotland, received £56m in subsidy in the latest financial year – a whacking £40 for every passenger who used its facilities.

Other airports are not so lucky. This century, six English airports have closed – most recently Doncaster Sheffield. Sixteen months after the final passengers departed, the South Yorkshire airport is the subject of a rescue bid.

So which airports are toast – and which could be revived? These are the key questions and answers...

[Read more: These are the UK’s ‘ghost airports’ – which could come back to life? | The Independent]