Gatwick Airport said today that it would take three to four years for passenger numbers to recover to pre-coronavirus levels.
Before the coronavirus decimated global air traffic, the UK’s second-busiest airport had seen passenger numbers rise to 37m in the nine months ending in December 2019.
Subsequently, Gatwick has been forced to take dramatic steps as wide-ranging travel bans and border closures sent the aviation industry into a tailspin.
Since 1 April, the airport has consolidated all of its operations into the south terminal, and is only operating flights between 2pm and 10pm each day.
In order to save cash, 90 per cent of Gatwick’s staff have been placed on the government’s job retention scheme.
In addition, the airport has taken action to secure its financial position, including a £300m loan with a consortium of banks.
The airport said it “expects all those measures to enable a quick recovery of the business and currently expects post-Covid-19 passenger numbers will return to recent levels within 36 to 48 months”.
Coronavirus pins Gatwick’s wings
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Gatwick, which is majority owned by Vinci Airports, had undergone impressive financial growth in addition to the increase in passengers.
Revenue growth had boosted the airport’s Ebitda by eight per cent to £432.3m, while income per passenger had risen six per cent to £19.50.
The airport has also managed to reduce its own emissions by about fifty per cent, halfway to its net zero goal.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “The airport continued to grow in difficult market conditions during the period covered in these results.
“However, the world has changed dramatically since then and Gatwick has taken decisive action to ensure that it remains in a strong position to recover from the dramatic fall in passenger numbers and the wider impacts of COVID-19.
“We have a resilient business and by taking steps to reduce costs, we have protected jobs and expect to recover from this crisis.