Regular Gatwick Airport flights ‘could start up again’ next month
Regular flights could start up again at Gatwick Airport by the end of May.
That’s the hope of airport chief executive Stewart Wingate who has spoken out about how the coronavirus outbreak had hit the airport hard.
He said Gatwick currently had five to 10 aircraft movements each 24 hours. “Normally it would be over 800 and up to 950 in the summer peak.
“We have been hurt badly by Covid-19 but we have remained open. We have about 600 staff routinely coming to work to make sure we stay open.”
He said there were a small number of scheduled flights to Europe, and repatriation flights for British citizens stuck abroad, along with a number of cargo flights shipping personal protective equipment for the NHS.
“I’m very proud we have a core part of the workforce still at work.” he said.
He also spoke of his ‘relief’ that the jobs of around 2,000 people had been saved with the Government’s job retention scheme.
But he admitted that it was ’going to take some time’ for the airport to get back to its previous employment levels.
“We hope operations will start up at the end of May or early June and build during July and August.” But, he said, the government would decide on the timing.
He added: “We’re very optimistic about the long term prospects of this business.”
He said he was also aware how much the airport relied on people living near the airport, particularly in Crawley, for its workforce and how much the airport also relied on them.
“We’re probably one of the jewels in the crown of this area,” he said. “Many businesses survive because of the airport and on the back of the airport. Our financial results for last year showed a very strong performance.”
He said the Covid-19 pandemic was ‘not the first crisis’ Gatwick had faced. Along with 9/11, there had been the financial crisis and “more recently we had to navigate drones, but this particular issue is clearly more fundamental with a longer-term of low activity at the airport - but we remain confident that we will pull through this.
“We will try to make Gatwick even stronger than it was previously.”
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