London Gatwick May Lose 600 Jobs Under Restructuring Proposal

north terminal at Gatwick Airport
Credit: Gatwick Airport

Nearly a quarter of staff at London Gatwick Airport could lose their jobs under a drastic restructuring plan, after COVID-related airline network cuts left the South London airport operating at just 20% of its peak-season capacity.

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said the potential job cuts are a “stark reminder” of the pandemic’s “devastating impact.”

“The new proposals could result in the region of 600 job roles being removed from across the business, which is approximately 24% of the current number of employees. The company will now enter into a formal consultation process,” Gatwick Airport said Aug. 26.

August is normally one of Gatwick’s busiest months, but passenger numbers remain more than 80% down on August 2019 because of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Virgin Atlantic has already axed its Gatwick operations and several other carriers have reduced theirs. Wizz Air UK, however, recently bucked this trend, announcing the opening of a new Gatwick base.

Only one of Gatwick’s two terminals—the North Terminal—is currently operational and over 75% of the airport’s staff are still furloughed. “Compared to this time last year, the airport is operating at around 20% of its capacity,” Gatwick said.

Wingate said Gatwick is in talks with the UK government over sector-specific support. “We will continue to do all we can to preserve as many jobs as possible,” Wingate said.

Gatwick is the UK’s second largest airport. It normally handles 46 million passengers, across a network of more than 230 destinations in 74 countries. VINCI Airports bought a 50.01% stake of Gatwick in 2019 and the remaining 49.99% is held by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).

When the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak became clear in mid-March 2020, Gatwick immediately announced plans to cut 200 staff on temporary contracts. The airport also closed two of its six piers and halted night-time operations between midnight and 5:30 a.m. The executive team took pay cuts and capital investments were put on hold.

From the beginning of April, Gatwick closed its North Terminal–consolidating operations in its South Terminal—and further-reduced its opening hours to 2:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. Around 90% of Gatwick’s staff were furloughed, and the airport’s long-stay car park was repurposed as a drive-through COVID-19 testing center.

Gatwick then secured a £300 million ($393 million) loan from a consortium of banks to help weather the crisis.

In mid-June, Gatwick shifted its passenger operations from the South Terminal to the North Terminal, following the roll-out of COVID-19 mitigation measures. Gatwick’s operating hours were also increased to 6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

Victoria Moores

Victoria Moores joined Air Transport World as our London-based European Editor/Bureau Chief on 18 June 2012. Victoria has nearly 20 years’ aviation industry experience, spanning airline ground operations, analytical, journalism and communications roles.