The resumption of British Airways flights between Cornwall and Heathrow today (Friday, 24 July) is welcome but Newquay Airport requires an urgent £5m bridging loan from the government if it is to recover, Unite has warned.  

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, called on the Department of Transport to immediately approve the request of the two-year bridging loan by Newquay Airport and its partners. 

Sustainable passenger numbers are expected to return over the next 18 months as airlines begin operating again and the airport’s economic activity grows. 

The loan is needed to enable Newquay Airport, which Unite described as ‘pivotal’ to the hub of aerospace businesses that surround it, to weather the short-term impacts of emerging from the pandemic. 

Newquay Airport generates £60 million per annum for the South West of England and employs around 700 people. Overall, the aviation and aerospace sectors bring in £1.2 billion to the South West region.

The airport supports the function of, and provides services to, RAF St Mawgan, Ministry of Defence contractor Cobham, national aerospace maintenance firm Apple STS, SpacePort, Go Bus and many other businesses. 

Unite regional officer Deborah Hopkins said: “The return of flights from Newquay to Heathrow is a step in the right direction and a much needed shot in the arm for Cornwall’s domestic and international connectivity following the lockdown. 

“Newquay Airport is a crucial economic hub for Cornwall and the South West, and is pivotal to the organisations and businesses based around it. The airport has a bright future ahead, but without urgent support from the Department of Transport in the form of a £5m two-year loan its post-pandemic recovery remains in-doubt. 

“Unite members have worked hard to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies at Newquay Airport to a third of initial predictions, making very difficult personal sacrifices to protect the future of the airport and Cornwall’s economy.

“Now it is time for transport minister Grant Shapps to play his part and urgently approve this loan, which when compared to the economic benefit it will bring is extremely modest. Not to do so would be an act of grave economic vandalism against the people of Cornwall and the South West.”


During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes. 

For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.


Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.