Gatwick Airport has announced plans to cut 600 jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK’s second busiest airport said the reduction of its workforce comes following the fall in demand for air travel, which has seen passenger numbers plummet by 80 per cent.
The 600 redundancies represent around a quarter of the airport’s workforce, and come as part of efforts to reduce costs across the business. Currently, the airport is operating at about 20 per cent of its usual capacity for August, and only the North Terminal is open.
Gatwick said it is planning a “significant restructure across its business”, which is aimed at reducing costs, but assured that employees will be formally consulted on the restructuring plans before any jobs are lost.
The airport is also currently in ongoing talks with the UK government to assess what sector-specific support can be put in place for the travel industry as the health crisis continues. It is also discussing how to give greater certainty to passengers on where and when they can safely travel abroad.
Falling demand for travel
Gatwick Airport already announced 200 job losses back in March, at the start of the UK’s lockdown, and later took out a £300 million bank loan.
With passenger numbers now well below usual demand, the company said it is looking to further reduce costs. Around 75 per cent of its staff are currently on the government’s furlough scheme, which is due to come to an end in October.
The UK economy is expected to lose £22 billion in tourism revenue this year, due to the fall in demand for international travel, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has said.
The WTTC warned that international visitor spending could drop by 78 per cent annually, and that almost three million UK jobs that are supported by travel and tourism are at risk of being lost.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, said, “The lack of international travel caused by the pandemic could wipe out more than £22 billion from the UK economy alone – a loss of £60 million a day – from which it could take years to recover.
“It could also threaten London’s position as one of the world’s premier hubs for business and leisure travel, which could see other destinations take over.”