Some airports are “threatened” with closure due to the loss of activity in the coronavirus pandemic, experts said.
Nine out of 10 flights have been grounded since the UK was blocked.
Airports said cargo flights were underway and shareholders were supporting them in their efforts to cut costs.
The Flight Tracker 24 flight tracking website recorded 711 departures from the UK’s 10 largest airports last week.
This compares to 7.865 in the week until the UK lockout.
Could airports close?
Independent aviation analyst Martin Evans said there was a “risk” that some airports would fold.
“The regional airports, just before the lockdown, were affected by the Flybe administration,” he said. “So they had already lost a substantial income.
“Now is the start of the period when they should be getting maximum income. If things get back to normal in winter, this is where they are most quiet.
“There is a risk that we may see airports close. It could mean that an airport company is retreating but the buildings and facilities are still there and someone else is taking over, but there is a risk at this time. “
He said airports should still cover fixed costs – ranging from management to air traffic control – whether there are flights or not.
Aviation expert and broadcaster Julian Bray said some planes on the ground may “never return to the sky.”
He said the systems should be carefully maintained before they can fly again.
And he added, “We will see some small airports close to the wall unless a rescue agreement can be reached. “
Bray said he expects passenger numbers will be low even when restrictions are lifted because people choose not to travel.
“Some get one or two departures a day, but it’s pretty dark at the moment. “
EasyJet said it expects a pre-tax loss of between £ 185 million and £ 205 million for the six-month period ending March 31, although this would mark an improvement after losing £ 275 million sterling during the same period a year earlier.
He said it is likely that he will keep his average seats empty once flights resume to maintain the social distancing triggered by the pandemic.
What are airports doing instead?
London Heathrow Airport would normally see an average of 1,400 takeoffs and landings per day.
In the week before the UK lockout, 2,432 flights were followed from the airport by Flightradar24, down from 464 last week.
At some airports, almost all passenger flights have stopped.
A spokeswoman for Birmingham Airport said traffic has dropped 90%.
“Birmingham Airport remains open to support all airlines that need to perform maintenance checks on aircraft, emergency flights and cargo, and we will continue to remain open for all airlines that need to use Birmingham as point of arrival or departure, “she said.
“We follow government advice on social distance to protect our employees and our customers. “
She said the remaining passenger flights included repatriation services from Pakistan as well as certain services to Dublin and Amsterdam.
One of the airport hangars is used for a temporary mortuary that can accommodate approximately 1,500 bodies, and the site is also close to the new Nightingale West Midlands Hospital at the NEC.
A spokesperson for the Manchester Airports Group, which manages Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports, said: “Each UK airport has experienced an unexpected, rapid and significant reduction in passenger numbers.
“MAG has already acted quickly to protect jobs and secure its long-term future by reducing costs across the group. MAG is facing this crisis in a solid and prudent financial situation, with favorable shareholders. “
He said that East Midlands Airport is currently one of the 10 busiest airports in Europe in terms of number of flights due to its cargo operation, with volumes “as high as they would be in a normal month “but the number of passengers down” very significantly to normal levels “. .
Newcastle Airport has limited hours of operation and currently has one daily commercial flight, four days a week, operating between Newcastle and Amsterdam, as well as occasional military, freight and medical flights.
“We welcome the measures taken so far by the government to support businesses during this difficult time, but hope that more help will be provided,” said a spokesperson.
At Belfast International, there have been no passenger flights since EasyJet’s departure in March.
A spokesperson said the airport remains open and “staffed appropriately.”
“Passenger flights are effectively limited to 24-hour medical emergency flights,” she said. “Our large nightly lifesaver cargo operations continue to provide the essential supplies required by key health and food chain sectors through this most difficult period.”
Medical flights include passengers who must travel to Britain for treatment, not related to the coronavirus, while cargo flights mainly go to East Midlands and Stansted airports and include Royal Mail services.
Bristol Airport “assists in repatriation, medical, military and other essential movements,” said a spokesperson.
What is the effect on local jobs?
The Center for Cities think tank estimates that one in five jobs in areas dependent on the aeronautical industry is vulnerable to the economic impacts of Covid-19.
Crawley’s economy near Gatwick Airport is likely to be hit the hardest, the report said.
The city has a large share of employees working in the aviation and aircraft manufacturing industries.