Gatwick Airport is to axe up to 600 jobs – around 24% of its workforce – due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel industry.
Gatwick, which is owned by VINCI Airports and Global Infrastructure Partners, said in a statement it was only operating about 20% of last year’s flights and would now start formal consultations on job cuts.
The airport said over 75% of its staff are on the UK government’s job retention scheme which is due to end in October.
Gatwick added it is restructuring its business to further reduce operating and staff costs in light of “the dramatic impact COVID-19 has had on its passenger and air traffic numbers”.
The airport said in a statement that in August, usually one of its busiest months, passenger numbers are more than 80% down compared with the number of passengers in the same month last year.
The company has said it tried to protect the airport back in March by reducing costs to preserve as many jobs as possible and securing a £300m bank loan.
Passenger numbers are so low at the airport that Gatwick is currently only operating from its North Terminal.
Stewart Wingate, chief executive at Gatwick Airport, said: “If anyone is in any doubt about the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the aviation and travel industry then today’s news we have shared with our staff, regarding the proposed job losses, is a stark reminder.
“We are in ongoing talks with the government to see what sector specific support can be put in place for the industry at this time, alongside mechanisms which will give our passengers greater certainty on where and when they can safely travel abroad.
“This support will not only help Gatwick but the wider regional economy which relies on the airport.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff, those who have worked tirelessly to keep Gatwick open throughout the pandemic and those who have had to remain on furlough, for their dedicated tenacity, professionalism and team spirit.
“We will continue to do all we can to preserve as many jobs as possible.”