London Gatwick to cut quarter of workforce

By: AFP      Published: 09:04 PM, 26 Aug, 2020
London Gatwick to cut quarter of workforce

Britain's second-busiest airport, Gatwick, on Wednesday announced 600 job cuts because of the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The airport, south of London, said the losses, which represent nearly a quarter of its workforce, come as August passenger numbers plunged 80 percent compared with last year.

"If anyone is any doubt about the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the aviation and travel industry, then today's news ... is a stark reminder," chief executive Stewart Wingate said.

"We are in ongoing talks with government to see what sector-specific support can be put in place for the industry at this time."

The slump because of the global pandemic has forced Gatwick to operate from just one of its two terminals, and the airport is operating at 20 percent of capacity.

More than 75 percent of staff are on furlough.

Wingate promised management would try to safeguard as many jobs as possible and said restructuring would lead to a "fitter and stronger organisation".

In late July, Heathrow -- Britain's busiest airport -- announced a pre-tax loss of £1.1 billion (1.2 billion euros) in the first six months of 2020.

Revenues halved year-on-year while passenger numbers fell 96 percent in the second quarter, as air travel came to a virtual standstill due to Covid-19 lockdowns around the world.

The airport, which directly employs 7,000 staff, began voluntary redundancies and reduced its management by a third.

It also cut operating costs by at least £300 million and cancelled or paused over £650 million in projects.