British Airways has reportedly launched a review into closing it operation at Gatwick Airport as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The flag carrier, a subsidiary of FTSE 100 firm IAG, is looking into whether to consolidate its operation at Heathrow, the Telegraph reported.
Such a move would be yet another blow to the UK’s second biggest airport, which has seen its daily departures and arrivals fall 92 per cent over the last year, making it the European airport worst affected by the pandemic.
Virgin Atlantic has already pulled out of the Sussex airport due to the pandemic, as has Norwegian, which recently exited a restructuring process.
A year ago it was revealed that it was possible that BA would not reopen its operation at Gatwick after the pandemic.
It is understood that the carrier is now concerned about the prospect of losing its lucrative take off and landing slots at Heathrow.
At the moment, the normal rules governing slots, which require airlines to use 80 per cent of their allocation or lose them, have been suspended.
But should transport secretary Grant Shapps elect not to extend the current waiver, it could force BA into having to focus on Heathrow, which has the most valuable slots.
Last month chief executive Luis Gallego told analysts:
“Gatwick is an important decision that we need to take as a group. It’s true that we have the issue with the slots.
“Gatwick has some strategic value, but we need to be competitive there. This crisis is going to change the profile … of the demand. So we are analysing the different options.”
A British Airways spokesperson said: “Until the end of October, most of our short-haul flights will continue to operate from Heathrow. This enables us to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted, and efficient operation across our business at a time when demand is yet to return and international travel restrictions remain in place.
“We’re still flying some of our long-haul flights from Gatwick”.