Gatwick Airport ‘will take years to recover’ from Covid crisis

A collapse in demand for air travel because of the Covid crisis has resulted in a massive £321 mllion loss for Gatwick Airport over the past six months.

And, airport bosses say, it will take Gatwick up to five years to recover to its pre-pandemic state.

The airport, which earlier this week announced 600 job cuts, currently has 70 per cent of its workforce on furlough.

Announcing its financial results today, Gatwick Airport chief executive officer Stewart Wingate said the company had had to take ‘decisive action’ after passenger numbers fell by 66 per cent.

Gatwick airport (north terminal) Covid-19 protective easures with guidance for staff and passengers to protect each other as it prepares to reopen its north terminal to accommodate more flights SUS-200906-140616001

Planned major projects for this year and next, costing £353 million, have been put on hold.

They include the building of a new multi-storey car park and an extension to one of the airport piers. But plans to convert the airport’s ‘stand-by’ runway into regular use will go ahead.

Meanwhile, a further £100 million in costs have been cut through a number of actions including the use of just the north terminal.

The airport secured a £300 million bank loan in April.

Stewart Wingate said: “Like any other international airport, the negative impact of Covid-19 on our passenger numbers and air traffic at the start of the year was dramatic and, although there are small signs of recovery, it is a trend we expect to continue to see.

“However, we are focused on ensuring the business remains robust and is best placed to take advantage of future growth.

“As with any responsible company we have protected our financial resilience by significantly reducing our operational costs and capital expenditure.

“We are going through a proposed company-wide restructuring programme and I want to thank all my staff for their hard work to date whilst we go through this difficult time.

“We will emerge a fitter and stronger organisation, best placed to remain flexible and agile in responding to growth opportunities. This includes continuing to do all we can to protect the safety and wellbeing of our staff and passengers.

“In this post COVID-19 travelling world, we are working hard with our airlines to ensure we continue to offer our customers a wide choice of destinations and carriers.”

He said, despite the challenges, he remained “resolutely optimistic that Gatwick will recover and retain its position as one of the UK’s leading travel hubs and economic driver for the region.”