Gatwick could lose 600 jobs, and it could take 4-5 years for passengers to return to 2019 levels
Gawick plans to cut a quarter of its workforce due to the impact of coronavirus. So about 600 jobs could be lost following an 80% reduction in the 2019 number of passengers in August. It only has the North Terminal working. CEO Stewart Wingate said the cuts were a result of the “devastating impacts” coronavirus had on the airline and travel industries. In March, Gatwick announced 200 jobs would be lost, and it later took out a £300m bank loan. With the collapse in passenger numbers, the company said it was looking to further reduce costs. About 75% of staff are currently on the government’s furlough scheme, which is due to end in October. The DfT says: “If people need financial support quickly they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Jobseekers Allowance.” Many staff belong to the union, Unite, which will fight to minimise redundancies. The airport has said it will take “four to five years” for passenger numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels. Its revenue fell by 61% in the half year, January to June, compared to 2019. While Covid remains a very real issue, and levels are slowly rising in many countries, air passengers have no certainty about from which countries they would need to quarantine themselves for 14 days, on their return.
Gatwick Airport plans to cut 600 jobs due to coronavirus
26 August 2020
Gatwick Airport has revealed plans to cut a quarter of its workforce due to the impact of coronavirus.
About 600 jobs could be lost following an 80% reduction in the number of passengers.
The airport is running at about 20% its usual capacity for August, with only the North Terminal open.
Chief Executive Stewart Wingate said the cuts were a result of the “devastating impacts” coronavirus had on the airline and travel industries.
In March, the airport announced 200 jobs would be lost and it later took out a £300m bank loan. With the collapse in passenger numbers, the company said it was looking to further reduce costs.
About 75% of staff are currently on the government’s furlough scheme, which is due to end in October.
Employees will be formally consulted on the restructuring plans before any jobs are lost.
Regional manager of the union Unite, Jamie Major, said 600 jobs amounted to roughly a quarter of the workforce directly employed at Gatwick.
He said: “This is a bitter blow for the workers and once again highlights the chronic failure of the government to support the aviation sector, despite promises way back in March that it would do so.
“Unite will be entering into formal negotiations with Gatwick Airport to ensure that redundancies are minimised and that all redundancy procedures are fair and fully transparent.”
He said the workforce had been left reeling and the scale of job losses was having a devastating effect on the local community and economy.
The company, which is owned by VINCI Airports and Global Infrastructure Partners, was talking to the government about support for the aviation industry and a new system to give passengers “greater certainty on where and when they can safely travel abroad,” Mr Wingate said.
Airport bosses said: “The proposed organisation redesign will reshape the company so it is best placed to respond quickly to future growth.”
Gatwick’s announcement follows the news that British Airways will make hundreds of job cuts at the airport in West Sussex.
Crawley council leader Peter Lamb said support was needed to stop the decline of the aviation industry – a major employer in the town.
He called on the government to continue the furlough scheme for industries which are affected by ongoing coronavirus restrictions.
Thousands of job losses had already been announced at the airport, with many more to come “unless the government provides us with the targeted deal for aviation we have repeatedly requested”.
A large number of redundancies at the airport would have a knock-on effect for any local business that “relies upon consumer spending,” he warned.
“We are talking about a generation of the town’s young people having their economic future devastated,” he added.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We understand this will be distressing news for Gatwick Airport’s employees and their families, and we will do everything we can to support them at this difficult time.
“If people need financial support quickly they may be able to claim Universal Credit and new style Jobseekers Allowance.
“The government recognises the impact that the coronavirus is having on the economy and workers, and we have put together an extensive package of financial support.”
The government also said it had supported the aerospace and aviation sectors with over £8.5 billion in grants, loans and export guarantees.
Coronavirus: Gatwick Airport ‘will take five years to recover’
It will take “four to five years” for passenger numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels, Gatwick Airport has said.
The West Sussex airport experienced a 61.3% fall in revenue and a £321m loss between January and June, compared with the same period in 2019.
The prediction comes two days after it announced 600 jobs cuts following an 80% fall in passenger numbers.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said Covid-19 had had a “dramatic” impact.
The company’s half-yearly results, published earlier, found earnings before tax and interest plummeted by 98.3%.
Passenger numbers fell from 22.2m to 7.5m over the same period.
In the statement, the airport said the restructuring plan would “better align the business to passenger and air traffic forecasts”.
Mr Wingate said there were “small signs” of recovery, however.
He added: “As with any responsible company we have protected our financial resilience by significantly reducing our operational costs and capital expenditure.”
He thanked staff for their hard work “whilst we go through this difficult time”, and said he remained “optimistic that Gatwick will recover and retain its position as one of the UK’s leading travel hubs”.