BOURNEMOUTH Airport has joined calls for government aid targeted at the aviation industry after it was revealed that regional flights are likely to bear the brunt of a slump in demand.

UK airports are set to lose £4billion by the end of this year as a result of the pandemic, with passenger numbers dropping by 99 per cent, research suggests.

The analysis, by York Aviation for the Airport Operators Association, suggests smaller airports will be hardest hit.

The industry is calling for a package of support including the suspension of air passenger duty (APD) for at least six months to stimulate travel.

Steve Gill, managing director of Bournemouth Airport, said: “As demonstrated by this new analysis, UK regional airports have been and will continue to be the worst impacted by the coronavirus crisis, with slower bounce back, with greater lost demand and lost connectivity.

“The report covers airports only and there will undoubtedly be a multiplier effect on the businesses and the wider community around UK airport sites.

“Such losses undermine the ability of airport business to power the future prosperity of their local economies, forgoing crucial investment projects and, unfortunately, causing job losses. Of particular interest to Bournemouth Airport is the request for temporary suspension of APD, which would be an important boost for our region.

“APD is one of the highest, if not the highest, tax of its type in the world. It adds a significant amount to the price of tickets departing from UK airports, which ultimately has the effect of dampening passenger demand and/or limiting the operating revenues that can be achieved by airlines from ticket sales.

“The temporary removal of APD would potentially stimulate demand for travel and/or enable airlines to temporarily support the commercial viability of routes that might otherwise have to be withdrawn.”

London airports are expected to handle 109million passengers this year, compared with 60m at regional airports. In 12 months’ time, 80 per cent of lost routes will have come from the UK regions.

Bournemouth Airport is also backing calls for the government to give the industry the same business rates relief that has been given to the hospitality and retail sectors. It also wants the government to help with staff costs after the furlough scheme ends in October and to fund the Civil Aviation Authority for the 2020-21 charging period.