LONDON (Reuters) – Gatwick Airport, Britain’s no.2 airport to the south of London, said it needed to axe up to 600 jobs, nearly a quarter of its workforce, because of the travel slump caused by COVID-19.
The travel industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Lockdowns which prevented flying from March to June have been replaced in the UK by quarantine rules, stopping a hoped-for rebound in traffic and leading to thousands of job losses.
Gatwick, owned by VINCI Airports and Global Infrastructure Partners, said on Wednesday it would start consultation about shedding 600 jobs, as it was only operating at about 20% of last year’s capacity.
Passenger numbers at Gatwick in August, usually one of the busiest months, are down 80% compared to last year, it added.
Gatwick’s move follows plans by some of its biggest airline customers to shrink, and comes after the UK’s no.1 airport, Heathrow, launched a voluntary redundancy scheme and said it could not rule out further job losses.
easyJet <EZJ.L>, British Airways <ICAG.L> and Virgin Atlantic have already announced about 20,000 job cuts between them and warned travel will take years to recover. BA and Virgin have both suspended operations at Gatwick for the time being.
Airports and airlines in the UK have called on ministers to scrap the quarantine policy in favour of a testing regime which would allow more travel.
“We are in ongoing talks with government to see what sector specific support can be put in place for the industry at this time,” Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said.
Gatwick said that currently 75% of its staff were on the government’s job retention scheme which is due to end in October.
(Reporting by Akshay Lodaya and Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton and Stephen Addison)