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Covid: Newcastle Airport 'will take years to recover'

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image copyrightNewcastle International Airport
image captionPassenger numbers are a fraction of their levels last year, airport bosses said

A North East airport has warned it could take up to four years before its passenger numbers return to pre-coronavirus levels.

About 5.5m people flew through Newcastle International Airport in 2019, but disruption caused by Covid-19 has seen nearly all flights cancelled.

Passengers numbers were currently "2 to 3%" of normal levels, bosses said.

Charter flights have been scrapped with only a small number of essential business routes operating.

"In the original lockdown we had zero passengers through the airport," Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director, said.

"It crept up to about 20% later in the summer but during the second lockdown we've been running 2 to 3% of what we'd have expected in a November period.

"It's going to be a long road to recovery, several years - possibly three or four years - to get back to passenger numbers we had in 2019."

The airport hopes a scheme reducing the isolation period for travellers will aid its recovery.

From 15 December people arriving in England from abroad will be able to shorten their quarantine by more than half if they pay for a Covid test after five days.

The tests from private firms will cost between £65 and £120.

Mr Mason said he believed it would "help encourage people to travel".

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