Covid grounds the Royal International Air Tattoo’s 50th anniversary celebrations

After months planning what would have been the 50th anniversary of the famous Royal International Air Tattoo, organisers have been forced to call off the event for 2021.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
The Royal International Air Tattoo has been cancelled for the second year running, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The Royal International Air Tattoo has been cancelled for the second year running, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

This summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo, due to take place at Gloucestershire’s RAF Fairford from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 July 2021, has been cancelled.

Organisers of the ever-popular air show, the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises (RAFCTE), said the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 meant there were too many risks for them to press ahead.

This will be the second year running the event has been unable to take place, after the 2020 Royal International Air Tattoo was held as a virtual event for the first time.

Organisers could potentially face a loss of up to £11.5 million (its last recorded turnover from 2019/20) as a result of the event not going ahead – on top of last year’s cancellation..

Paul Atherton, chief executive officer of the Royal International Air Tattoo, said: ‘If we knew, with some degree of certainty what the situation would be in the summer we’d be able to plan ahead but, the truth is, we simply don’t know.

‘We have reached a point where, to plan further, would involve us committing large sums of money to secure the event infrastructure. Without any insurance being available this year, this money would be lost if the airshow had to cancel nearer the time. It was simply too big a risk to take.

‘I know how disappointed all those who are involved in the airshow will be, from our incredible army of volunteers and loyal ticketholders to our valued corporate guests, suppliers, traders and sponsors, as well as the many military air arms from around the globe, but I also know they will understand and support our decision.

‘Public safety is paramount, and we also have a duty to protect the future of RIAT. By making this decision in a timely and controlled manner, we will be in a far stronger position to bounce back in 2022.’

Mr Atherton added the organisers had still not given up entirely on marking this year’s 50th birthday, saying they were ‘determined’ to find an opportunity to mark the milestone.

Ticketholders for the 2021 Royal International Air Tattoo should expect to be contacted by the end of February and offered either a refund, or the opportunity to roll over their tickets to the 2022 event, due to take place on From Friday 15 to Sunday 17 July 2022.

By Andrew Merrell

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